Feeling Hangry Is Real, According To Science

In 2015, the word 'hangry' was added to the Oxford English dictionary. It's a combination of the words 'hungry' and 'angry' and means that a person's anger is caused by being in a state of hunger, per Grammarist.

Even though the portmanteau 'hangry' sounds like a made-up word and was only added to the dictionary recently, it's been cited in popular culture as far back as 1956, per Fox News. According to Eater, the reason it feels like a new word is because it really only gained popularity from 2011 – 2015 when Google noticed a rise in searches for it. 

The known link between emotions and eating is not new, per HelpGuide. Several celebrities including Pete Davidson and Rebel Wilson have both admitted to falling victim to the clutches of emotional eating and it's common enough that a Google search for the condition pulls up numerous articles on why it exists and how to combat it. 

However, what about the emotion of being angry when you're hungry? Is it real? It's because of its popularity in funny memes that being 'hangry' may not seem like a real thing, but in fact, it's very real.

Hanger affects our bodies and minds

Dr. Viren Swami and associates conducted a study with 64 participants where they explored the link between "hunger and negative emotions". Participants were asked to record their emotional state over a period of three weeks. The results concluded that being 'hangry' was indeed a real state and even though there were no answers on how to deal with the heightened sense of emotion, the study suggested that being able to put a label on an emotional state would help the 'hangry' person be able to regulate the feeling, per Plos One.

According to Steve Grant Health, on a primitive level, humans have long sought ways to either steer clear of pain or seek out pleasure, and food feeds that emotional state. Similarly, Dr. Debra Safer suggests that in primitive times during food shortages, that 'hanger' might have prompted a person to "search harder" for food and therefore was a beneficial emotion for humans to survive (per Today).

Cleveland Clinic gastroenterologist Christine Lee points out that the emotional response can also be physiological, noting, "When you haven't eaten for a while, the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood decreases." And when your blood sugar drops, your body releases adrenaline and stress hormones like cortisol. So next time you start to feel agitated, at least you can take comfort in knowing it's not just in your head.