It seems “hangry” isn’t just a made-up term. University of Guelph researchers have revealed that the sudden drop in glucose we experience when we are hungry can impact our mood.
“We found evidence that a change in glucose level can have a lasting effect on mood,” says Prof. Francesco Leri, Department of Psychology.
“I was skeptical when people would tell me that they get grouchy if they don’t eat, but now I believe it. Hypoglycemia is a strong physiological and psychological stressor.”
Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, the study examined the impact of a sudden glucose drop on emotional behaviour by inducing hypoglycemia in rats.
The researchers tested blood levels of the rats after experiencing hypoglycemia and found more corticosterone, an indicator of physiological stress. This finding supports the idea that the animals experienced stress and depressed mood when they were hypoglycemic, he says.
While missing one meal may make you “hangry,” the findings suggest your mood could be impacted if meal-skipping becomes a habit.
“Poor mood and poor eating can become a vicious cycle in that if a person isn’t eating properly, they can experience a drop in mood, and this drop in mood can make them not want to eat,” says PhD student Thomas Horman, who led the study.
“If someone is constantly missing meals and constantly experiencing this stressor, the response could affect their emotional state on a more constant level.”
The study results may help treat people who experience anxiety or depression and may provide insight into connections between depression and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, bulimia and anorexia.