A grandmother and granddaughter smile at the dinner table.

Maybe you’ve skipped breakfast or lunch, or you’ve just eaten something like a plain donut. All of a sudden you’re cranky, irritable and unbearable to be around. What the heck is going on? In the same way we see a 4-year-old melt down after a tiring day, adults feel hangry (hungry and angry) when their blood sugar dips too low for normal function.

A drop in your blood sugar, or glucose level—the body’s main source of energy—means a drop in your vitality and self-control, fueling not only those moody, food-seeking binges but a cranky outlook on a perfectly fine day.

2 recent studies1 explored whether being hangry was something real or a convenient excuse. Researchers found that there are connections between hunger and anger or other negative feelings—especially when hungry people are under stress.

How to head off hanger

You can help fight hanger by eating right. The trick is to eat meals and snacks that combine high fiber fruits and vegetables, whole grains and protein.2 Ideally, always eat on a schedule to better control cravings.

There’s science behind a balanced ratio of protein, whole grains and colorful produce that helps energy and fuel release more slowly. MyPlate for Older Adults has guidelines that offer food, fluid and physical activity guidance specifically tailored for older adults.3


  1. “Here’s Why You Get Hangry, According to Science,” Time, last accessed May 17, 2019, http://time.com/5307993/heres-why-you-get-hangry/., opens new window
  2. “Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors,” National Council on Aging, last accessed May 17, 2019, https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/benefits/food-and-nutrition/senior-nutrition/., opens new window
  3. “What Is MyPlate for Older Adults?,” last accessed May 17, 2019, https://hnrca.tufts.edu/myplate/what-is-myplate-for-older-adults/#., opens new window