4 Ways to Avoid Being “Hangry”

Avoid “Hanger”

The best way to avoid a negative feeling is to understand the trigger or cause for it. While the concept of irritability has been around forever, being “hangry” is somewhat new. If you’ve never heard the term before, feeling “hangry” is a combination of “hungry” and “angry”. Simple enough, but actually feeling “hangry” can be a very miserable experience. Infants feel this most often, since they experience a constant hunger for their mother’s milk.

What is unique about this type of irritability or intense frustration is that it can only be cured by eating food. You can provide validation, comfort, empathy, and every other form of support that usually helps someone who is just “having a bad day”, and it just doesn’t help.

Hangry at Work

I consider myself a fairly relaxed and mellow person, but I’ve felt hangry. All I can think about is finding food. This “hyper-focus” on a single goal lessens my ability to reason, listen, be patient, and calm in common situations. The smallest trigger, such as accidentally stubbing my toe, can incite anger and I may even yell, “Ow!” louder than normal.

Hangry at Work

It may seem like a silly concept, and I use it as an extreme example for the types of everyday frustrations we all deal with. Whatever the cause, here are the Top 4 ways to deal with “Hanger”:

Label it

One of the most effective ways to stop the emotional fire truck from wailing is to recognize what is happening and call it what it is: hanger, frustration, sleep deprivation, etc.

This automatically neutralizes its power over you, because you are now aware of its affect on you. Once it is named, you can move to the next 3 steps.


If you know what is causing your irritation, pause whatever you’re doing. After you label it, take a deep breath, remind yourself that everything is going to be okay, and create a plan. Protein bars are a great way to curb hunger quickly and I personally love “Qwest bars”. I keep them around, in my purse and car, because they are healthy and tasty.

Sometimes the cause of irritation is other people. Find a way to take a break. Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom if you’re in a group setting or with another person. Center yourself and decide…

How bad is this really?

Once you’ve labeled it and re-focused, assess the real damage. Are you exaggerating the severity of the problem? Can it be fixed easily? On a scale from 1-10, is this actually a “2”?

Doing this will help you look at the big picture. If you walk away from this situation, will the world end? Can you wait twenty minutes to make yourself a sandwich?

In the moment, an irritant can seem like the worst thing on Earth, but rating it is a great way to ground yourself.

Eat When Hangry

Make a mental note

Yay! You’ve survived another Hangry episode. Make some mental notes, or physically write them down, about what happened.

Example: I skipped breakfast this morning and my hunger made me snap at my boss during our 10am meeting.

Think about ways to avoid this situation in the future.

Example: I’ll purchase some healthy snacks and keep them in my car or desk drawer to avoid meeting on an empty stomach in the future.

Rest assured that you now have a plan to avoid the discomfort of irritation and learn from this experience. For adults, it doesn’t come out wailing, it comes out at outbursts. We’re not babies, so we can’t depend on others to identify it. This is why figuring out is important for yourself.

As we mature, we become better equipped with the power of words and reflection in order to process and avoid these occurrences in the future. Call today for a free 15-minute consultation if these are skills you’d like to work on today. : +1 (818) 514-5655

Christina Castorena, MS, LMFT


– Christina Castorena, LMFT
Castorena Therapeutic Services