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Feeling hangry? It's not your imagination

“Hanger” is real, according to science.

In a recent study, scientists compared two groups of women: One had fasted for the previous 14 hours; the other had just eaten.

The fasting group reported:

  • More negative emotions—including anger, tension, fatigue, and confusion

  • Fewer positive emotions—specifically, lower vigor and slightly lower feelings of self-esteem

For some folks, this can be problematic. That’s because negative emotions are linked to overeating, unsuccessful diets, and weight gain.[2]

You don’t need to be a nutrition scientist to see how those things might affect one another.

So what can you do about hanger?

If you experience it often, your diet might be too restrictive.

Try focusing less on restriction and more on adding foods that support your goals. (Produce is a great place to start.)

Granted, everyone feels hungry at times (especially if you’re trying to lose weight).

But there’s a difference between being “a little bit hungry” and “so hungry my brain is going to explode!”

“A little bit hungry” is normal, and with practice, you can build your tolerance for it.

One way: Remind yourself that most hunger isn’t actually an emergency, and that it comes waves (so if you wait, it dissipates).

This is a worthwhile skill NOT because you want to restrict yourself.

Instead, it’s a tool for when you really can’t eat.

Like when you’re prepping for a colonoscopy or delayed on the tarmac.

Because in those times? Hanger only makes a bad situation worse.

PMID: 34637770

Ackermans MA, Jonker NC, Bennik EC, de Jong PJ. Hunger increases negative and decreases positive emotions in women with a healthy weight. Appetite. 2022 Jan 1;168:105746.

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