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Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Is There Such a Thing as Hangry?

Is There Such a Thing as Hangry?

I can’t recall when I first heard the word “hangry.” I admit that I never actually looked up the definition, as it seemed cleverly obvious. Then I came upon an article explaining it.

According to “Don’t get mad, but ‘hangry’ isn’t really angry” by Benedict Carey (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 12/17/19, p. E8), Although “Hangriness is a distinct sensation of urgency and growing impatience . . . psychologists are now trying to parse how, exactly, ‘hanger’ differs from the furious, simmering or righteous varieties.” Jennifer K. MacCormack, a University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill doctoral candidate in psychology and neuro-science, “found that people describe themselves, when hungry, as more annoyed than usual and less in control of their emotions.”

Studying groups of people testing emotional awareness, she found that “Only the individuals in the second group, presumably less self-aware of their growing agitation, showed clear signs of stress and annoyance…” Her conclusion is illuminating: “Being hungry clearly does change our affect, our emotional state . . . But this evidence suggests that it does not automatically lead to being angry or more selfish.”

My point is that it’s time to stop connecting hunger, anger and eating and start being more physically and emotionally attuned. And, no mistake, if you want to eat more “normally,” you will need to attune to both your physical and emotional states. If you’ve been telling yourself that you eat because you’re “hangry,” here are some strategies to practice so that feelings don’t automatically lead you to feeding:

  1. When you have the urge to eat, get in the habit of always asking yourself if you’re hungry and, if so, are you hungry enough to eat (which would be “moderately” under most circumstances).
  2. When you have the urge to eat and find you’re not hungry enough to do so, ask yourself what you’re feeling, being specific as possible about your affective state. Think, not upset, but undervalued, not stressed but frustrated or enraged.
  3. Check in with yourself or keep a running tab during the day on your emotions. Stop and ask yourself frequently exactly how you’re feeling. 
  4. Pay attention to stress building up in your body—your neck, head or lower back. Stay connected to physical sensations the same way you stay attuned to emotions.
  5. Build strategies into your day for mentally and physically de-stressing.

Follow these guidelines and you’re more likely to keep food and feelings separate, right where they belong, and stop using “hangry” as an excuse for mindless eating.

 

Best,

Karen

 

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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.  Privacy Policy