Now, let’s thicken the plot. Let’s suppose you’re on your way to a first date with someone you’ve been communicating with for a few weeks (and you think you really like him). And here you are with this crazy “mad” feeling and you’re afraid the irrational anger is going to compromise the date.
It’s as if your evil twin has taken over, because you don’t normally act like this (and you definitely don’t want her showing up on this date). Believe it or not, this topic has come up more than once with my coaching clients. I’ve spent time doing detective work with clients in an effort to better understand what’s really going on.
Over the years, I’ve learned to not dig too deep too quickly. Instead, I start with the simple things. Because – you’ll never believe what a common cause of irrational anger actually is – it’s hunger!
I was pleased to hear this discussed in World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer this month. In fact, a new word has showed up around this very topic. The word is “hangry.”This segment talks about how it’s not uncommon for married couples to get into a fight when they’re hungry. Researchers at Ohio State University looked at over 100 couples with marriages averaging 12 years, and found there were definitely links between levels of blood sugar and feelings of aggression.
Put simply, when blood sugar levels drop, aggression levels tend to rise. Then, when people eat and their glucose levels come back up, they have fuel for their brain to exercise self-control over those “mad” feelings.
The focus of the “hangry” study was on married couples. However, as a relationship coach, I can guarantee you that this problem can be applied in many more situations – for example with your boss, with the driver in front of you, and, unfortunately, it can occur on a first date.
So, what are some good steps to take to short-circuit hangriness? You’ve already taken one. You’ve become aware.
You’ve just learned that when your anger goes from zero to 60 in five seconds or less, it might be because you’re hungry. The trick is, when you feel the beginnings of an out-of-proportion upset feeling, remember to do the hunger check-in. (Just checking in can take some of the initial charge away).
Here are 5 steps to prevent being hangry:
- Once you realize you’re hungry, eat something. Keep snack bars in your car, purse or briefcase. And, even though it might be easier, try to not resort to sugary foods. Eating fruits and whole grains are the best way to keep your blood sugar in balance.
- Consider setting an alarm (on your watch or phone) to ensure you eat meals at regular times. People always comment when my 1 p.m. cell phone alarm goes off. I can get so involved in my work I forget to eat. So by setting this alarm, I’m helping myself feel my best at 3 p.m. instead of crabby.
- Especially on days when you have a first date planned, pack something to eat during the day. Cut up vegetables or fruit, make a half sandwich, pick up a yogurt or smoothie, etc.
- Suggest your date be for lunch instead of dinner. This way you’re sure to eat during the day.
- Make sure you eat breakfast that morning.
The hangry concept is also good to remember when another person suddenly gets mad at you for no good reason. It could be helpful to check in with them to see if they’re feeling hungry. And if they are, share one of your whole-grained snacks with them!
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