Healthy Bites

4 Ways to Avoid Feeling 'Hangry' (and Save Your Marriage)

A couple sits on a couch looking away from each other.
Feeling hangry may take a toll on your relationship, a recent study found. (Image credit: Hangry couple photo via Shutterstock)

Do you get grouchy when you go too long between meals? Well, it turns out there may be a scientific reason behind this phenomenon called feeling "hangry" (so hungry that you become angry). And there may something we can do to prevent this feeling from arising — perhaps even your spouse will thank you.

A recent study found that when people's blood-glucose levels dropped, they were more likely to act out in anger against their significant others. People with low blood sugar were more likely to stick pins in voodoo dolls and blast loud music through their spouse's headphones, behaviors that indicate at least some level of ill intent, according to the researchers, who published their findings in April in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Here are some tips for keeping your glucose levels from spiking and dropping throughout the day.

1. Pack healthy snacks. If you're feeling hungry, your blood glucose levels could be dropping. Avoid that hungry feeling throughout the day by keeping healthy snacks, such as yogurt or chopped vegetables, handy. Reaching for sugary snacks from the vending machine will only cause a surge and then an inevitable drop in your blood sugar levels.

2. Choose carbs wisely. If you must have bread, choose breads with at least 3 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber. The protein will help keep you feeling satisfied longer, and the fiber will slow glucose digestion. [9 Snack Foods: Healthy or Not?]

3. Eat a magnesium-rich diet. There is a significant association between magnesium intake and type 2 diabetes risk, according to a 2011 review in the journal Diabetes Care. This suggests that magnesium may play an important role in controlling blood sugar levels. Try adding a spinach salad with avocado for a super boost of magnesium to your diet.

4. Consider grapefruit for breakfast. Insulin resistance may be greatly improved when people consume a half of a fresh grapefruit before meals, according to a 2006 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Healthy Bites appears weekly on LiveScience. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Deborah Enos
Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.