Let’s face it- we all love food. It’s everywhere and access to it is practically within arm’s reach most of the time. However, when we delay in feeding our inner beast everything can change within a moments notice. We become irritable and short tempered at the slightest inconveniences. We aren’t the same person that people know and love, instead we become this stranger, monster even, that very few people in our inner circle understand. We become hangry.
But how? How can food alter the way we think, feel and act? To break it down, when we are in a happy state such as when we graduate college or find out we got a raise, our body releases endorphins, otherwise known as the “feel good hormone”. The same thing happens when we eat and it makes the food even more enjoyable and delicious. After we finish a meal the body works its magic and breaks it down into carbs and simple sugars and restores our glucose levels back to equilibrium.
Alternatively, when we start to feel hungry again that means our glucose (sugar) levels are declining and if our sugar level falls low enough it triggers the brain into going into “survival mode” and the body in turn releases hormones to counteract the decrease in glucose levels. The two main hormones released are adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone which in some cases can cause aggression.
While our organs have their own back up supply of energy, the brain does not and as such requires a constant supply of glucose, or sugar, to function normally. Interestingly however, the brain only accounts for 2% of our body mass and yet it is estimated that it uses about 20% of the body’s energy intake throughout the day.
So, while the word “hangry” is used to summarize a person’s actions and mood due to lack of food, it’s simply a biochemical response that occurs naturally in an effort to keep the body going as best as possible. Which is why it’s always a good idea to have a snack or two at work, school or any other place where food isn’t readily available so that you can avoid bringing out the beast within.