Hanger Is A Real Thing - Here's How To Control It

Have you ever gotten into a heated argument or angrily canceled a date with your significant other when you couldn't agree on where to eat dinner? Does everyone in your shared office space avoid you toward the end of the day? Do you find yourself wondering why there seems to be an unavoidable showdown with yelling and tears between you and your toddler at three o'clock every single afternoon? You may be suffering from hanger and not even know it.


Hanger, according to the Cleveland Clinic, is anger triggered by the extreme irritability that hunger, and its associated drop in blood sugar and release of stress hormones, can cause in certain individuals. This state of being is now widely (yet informally) known as "hangry" (via Merriam-Webster). It often rears its head in the mid-afternoon, especially if your lunch was lacking in either quantity or nutrients. Here is a guide to identifying and preventing the onset of hanger. As for crafting apologies to all the people you've snapped at when you were hangry, you're on your own.

Recognizing the early signs of hanger

Before you reach the state of full-on hanger, regular old hunger makes an appearance, though you likely don't notice it. You may have inadvertently taught yourself to ignore hunger cues through past dieting or you might struggle with recognizing your body's subtle signals due to a neurodivergence such as ADHD or autism (via Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). You could also be particularly prone to irregularities in blood sugar thanks to diabetes or insulin resistance, as detailed by Everyday Health.


Luckily, no matter what is making it difficult for you to recognize the signs of hunger before it turns into hanger, you can get better at it with practice. If you eat lunch around the same time every day, set a daily alarm for about three hours afterwards. When the alarm goes off, take a moment to connect with your body and assess its signals. Scan for rumbling, emptiness, or mild pangs in your stomach. Does your head feel clear or foggy? Are your hands steady or shaking slightly? If you notice any of these signs of hunger, it's time for a snack (via Healthline).

Preventing hanger

Learning to recognize hunger cues is essential to preventing hanger, but it isn't the whole story. The nutritional makeup of the of the food you're eating plays a role as well. If you realize you're hungry and then grab a sugary snack like a granola bar, you'll be right back where you started in an hour. The human body prefers to burn carbohydrates for energy, according to Livestrong.com. So, when your fuel tank is heading toward empty, you may experience cravings for sugary or high-carb foods. However, these foods provide a quick surge of energy and an accompanying spike in blood sugar. Shortly after, you'll experience a crash that may leave you hangrier than you were before snack time.


If you want to satiate hunger for the long-term, pair your carbohydrates with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. These essential macronutrients stabilize blood sugar and prevent chronic hunger from nutrient deficiencies, as explained by Healthy Food Guide. Next time you reach for a mid-afternoon snack, try swapping your granola bar for a shake with protein powder or some sliced avocado with lime juice and sea salt. Your loved ones and co-workers will thank you.