Eat Your Feelings: How Hunger Becomes ‘Hanger’

Jul 6, 2018

Hunger does not automatically become "hanger," but can be the result of a negative stimulus and lack of emotional awareness.
Credit Petras Gagilas/Flickr Creative Commons

Plenty of people blame feeling angry on being hungry and this year the Oxford English Dictionary added the word “hangry” as a colloquial blend of the two. The term reflects a common experience, but one that had not been well understood.

Jennifer MacCormack is a doctoral student in psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill whose research explores how hunger is conceptualized as emotion. She led studies that found “hanger” is not as simple as a drop in blood sugar, but rather a complicated emotional response that we can control with increased body awareness.

Guest host Anita Rao talks with MacCormack about why we get hangry and how we can prevent it even when there’s no sandwich in sight.