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    Sunday, September 13, 2015

    Are You Angry or Hangry?

      Have you noticed that you’re often irritable? The answer could be fluctuating blood sugar levels.

    Once, my then-boyfriend and I were waiting in a loud bar and bar-b-que joint for our take-out meal. It was taking too long and he was cranky. There was room to dance so I grabbed him and tried to get him interested. This infuriated him even more.

    A half hour later, on our way home with the bag in tow, he remained angry. Why? Because I hadn't been sensitive to the fact that he was angry about waiting for his food and wanted to dance.

    I recall saying, "I was trying to distract you. Why shouldn't we have fun if we're forced to wait anyway?"

    "It was all about you. Not about my feelings."

    "You get angry when your'e hungry. You'll feel better after you eat. "

     "It's not because I'm hungry!" he said, further enraged. "That's dismissive!"

    After we ate, the evening turned around. We broke up anyway. My current boyfriend can go without food and get just slightly peevish--bless you, J!

    Researchers have been pursuing the theory that blood-sugar issues make you irritable--something people have said among themselves for decades.

    To test (link is external)this idea, a team at Ohio State University tracked the nightly blood sugar levels of 107 married couples for 21 days. The team also gave  participants a way to express anger: voo-doo dolls representing their spouses and a personal stack of 51 pins.

    In a second test, spouses were put in separate rooms and told that they were competing against each other in a computer game. In fact, each spouse was pre-set to lose 13 of 25 trials in a random assortment.  The spouse that won had the opportunity to blast his or her partner with a loud ugly sound—or opt for “no noise.”

    The noise was a mixture of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard, dentist drills, ambulance sirens. Winners also got to choose from 1-10 noise levels, up to the volume of a fire alarm, and whether the sound would last along a spectrum from half a second to 5 seconds—a lab measure of aggression that has been used for decades.

    When they were on the receiving end, a computer delivered a random blast.

    Guess what?  Participants with below-normal glucose levels in the previous three weeks chose to punish their spouses with louder sounds, longer.

    Other studies have focused on the so-called “hangar” effect. People who drank sweet lemonade in the lab were less aggressive in a similar computer test of aggression. And people with diabetes, who may have fluctuating sugar levels, emerged as less forgiving in another study (link is external).

    In Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister and his co-author John Tierney from the New York Times made the point simple: "No glucose, no willpower,"

    Tamping down anger requires will-power.

    However it hasn't been straightforward (link is external)to replicate findings that drinking something sweet affects your self-control. The answer isn’t to have a soda before important discussions.

    How would you feel if you took that noise test and found yourself giving your life partner a loud long blast?

    You can build up your self-control with good habits, over time, Baumeister observes. Making your bed every day is a start.

    But if you know you tend to get irritable, perhaps later in the day after missing meals, don’t let this damage your relationships. Regular exercise can protect you against developing blood sugar problems. Also, aim for balanced snacks that contain some protein are a good bet during the day—especially nuts. Keep them at the office if you find you are missing lunch and getting irritable around co-workers and equally underfed cranky bosses.

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     This topic brought to you from psychologytoday.com
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