You’re a few hours past the lunch you had to skip for an urgent meeting and (unfortunately) still a few hours away from dinner. As usual, you’re prepared with snacks — it’s just good sense, really — but even those don’t fill you for long. That familiar feeling creeps in, and it’s not just in your growling stomach. You sense it in the frustrated tone of your voice and your dwindling patience. You sense it in your general, well, unpleasantness. It’s called hanger, friends, and no one can escape it.

If you feel like you consistently get angry or frustrated when you’re hungry, you’re not crazy — and you’re not alone. There’s science to back hanger up! Mental health expert Emily Mendez explains that certain hormones are released when you are in a state of hunger. And since we all know that hormones are to blame for pretty much everything that feels weird in life, it should come as no surprise that those hunger chemicals are responsible for changing your mood and encouraging you to act unlike yourself. As a result of these hormonal shifts — not to mention the fact that hanger can just make you feel icky — there are certain things you shouldn’t do and decisions you shouldn’t make on an empty stomach. Keep scrolling to find out what activities our experts nixed until you’ve sat down for a bite.

A woman happily bites into a croissant

1. Engaging in Big-Ticket Shopping: Fill your tummy before you sign a lease, buy a car, or even treat yourself to a shopping spree. “Hanger is a real state and can cause impulse behavior and slower decision-making,” says Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, author of Seven-Day PWR Detox. “For that reason, avoid major purchases and financial decisions. You may take your credit card out for something you’ll regret later.”

2. Setting a Breakup in Motion: As anyone who’s ever been hangry knows (and haven’t we all?), you’re really not you on an empty stomach. People and situations that normally wouldn’t affect you can totally set you off, and if you’re not aware that the reaction is at least partially related to your hunger, you might set some events in motion that you can’t take back. Your S.O. could be driving you crazy, but licensed marriage and family therapist Katie Ziskind cautions against a breakup until after you’ve satisfied your appetite. You’ll likely feel like a different person when your hanger subsides — one who’s prepared to work on problems together (or who at least has a more reliable perspective on their severity).

3. Making Big Food-Related Decisions: It sounds counterintuitive, but when you’re hungry, you should limit the number of eating-related calls that you need to make — particularly if you’re trying to stick to a specific meal plan. Once you’re hangry, it becomes so much more difficult to make healthy choices and abide by the guidelines you’ve set for yourself. Even if you’re not sticking to an eating plan, it’s still much more tempting to eat things you don’t even like when your stomach is growling. Alegra Loewenstein, author of Emotional Eating Detox, notes that planning ahead (AKA having good snacks at the ready!) is key in avoiding these kinds of situations. “Nourish your body so you can reach a place of balance, forgive yourself for getting hangry in the first place, then make a plan to avoid your hanger next time,” she encourages.

4. Having Important Conversations: If you feel like you and your S.O. are inching toward a heated discussion, but you still haven’t filled your tummy, consider putting things on hold. “When you’re hangry, you’ll be more likely to snap at your partner and will certainly not be a patient and attentive listener,” Kennedy says. This obviously also applies to approaching your boss about the raise you think is overdue, figuring out how to break the news to your BFF that you won’t be able to make their wedding, setting new boundaries with parents who still see you as their little baby, or any other high-stakes convo on the horizon. Trust us: It’ll wait until you’re sated.

How do you experience hanger? Tell us about it @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)

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