How many times have we blamed a friend’s unreasonable outburst on ‘hanger’? Anger due to hunger is often considered one form of throwing a tantrum, but could it be something else? When our bellies are out of food, we get hungry. If we don’t eat within a reasonable period of time, we get upset and angry. On the contrary, when we run out of fuel, which is the blood sugar, we face a crash. This includes feelings of fatigue, listlessness and in some people, even a meltdown.
Differences Between Low Blood Sugar And Hanger
1. They Feel Different
We all know what hunger feels like, don’t we? It is that hollow feeling in the upper part of the stomach which tells us that we need to eat, and soon. Low blood sugar is more generic in the way it feels. It is often accompanied by headache, because the body is stressed out trying to function with the sugar available to it. Other symptoms include sudden fatigue or drowsiness, and crankiness. It is this crankiness that makes low blood sugar look so similar to hanger.1
2. They Have Different Causes
Hunger is a more short-term feeling. If we skip a meal, we feel hungry. The mechanism of low blood sugar is more complex. We may have had a spike in sugar because of eating too many sweets, and the subsequent normalization feels like a crash. Those with diabetes take insulin supplements, and sometimes these supplements cause people to go into insulin shock when they overdose. In each of these cases, the levels of blood sugar are fluctuating.2 In most healthy individuals, low blood glucose has nothing to do with hunger at all!
3. They Can Be Handled Easily
Thankfully, the good news is that both hanger and low blood sugar can be dealt with. While to a casual observer, a hangry person may seem like they are throwing a fit, some people have a very low threshold for hunger. We need to remember that hunger is a biochemical process and people cannot control when and how they feel hungry. The solution? Eat! There’s no better way to fight of hanger than to get a meal in the tummy.
Low blood sugar is a lot more serious. While it is recommended that people with low blood sugar grab a bar of chocolate immediately, we need to investigate the root cause. If you are diabetic, and you skip a meal, chances are the your sugar levels are plummeting.3 If you notice someone with symptoms of low blood sugar, give them a glass of fresh juice or glucose chews immediately. If they are in no position to eat by mouth, call the emergency services without further delay.4
4. They Can Be Prevented
If you know that you are prone to hanger, it helps to carry a small snack when you go out. The snack will keep you satiated until you find a place to eat. Usually, a protein rich snack stays in your stomach for longer and can keep you feeling full for longer. On the other hand, if you begin experience symptoms of low blood sugar, grab a juice to drink, or a tablespoon of honey, sugar or raisins. If you have a health condition that causes sugar levels to fluctuate, always keep a glucometer handy and begin testing when you first notice the symptoms. Talk to your doctor about what you can do in case of mild hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), as well as what to do when the symptoms become severe.
The next time someone blames you for being ‘hangry’, tell them that it is deeper than they think.