I suffer from a condition that I refer to as “hanger.” When I go too long without eating, something happens to me, beyond my control, not unlike Bruce Banner when he turns into the The Hulk. (I had to Google the name of The Hulk’s alter ego, by the way. Don’t mistake me for a person who knows anything about comic books.) When I’m really hungry, I start to change.
First, I get a headache, but it’s a specific kind of headache that feels like giant hands are squeezing my forehead. Next comes the stomach growling. All normal signs of hunger, I suppose. But once the stomach growling runs its course, I go rogue, turning into a raging savagely bitchy beast capable of evil. I get laser focused on where food is coming from and how soon it’s going to be in my mouth. I don’t care what food it is. Anyone around me at that time should take cover, because should you stand between me and the meal I so desperately need to consume, you shall feel my wrath. (A big “I’m sorry” to anyone who has ever dated me, because you’ve seen the worst of this and I truly regret it.) Normally a calm and peaceful being, in a fit of hanger, I’m liable to slam doors, hurl insults or break down in tears over nothing. It’s like all of my impulse control shuts down. And if you suffer from this affliction yourself, I’m very sorry.
I’m sure you’re wondering at this point why I’ve shared all of this with you. Well, it appears that science is on its way to understanding the hanger phenomenon. Past research has shown that hungry people took significantly more financial risks than their sated colleagues. Well, obviously, because hanger makes you irrational.
Scientists took it a step further in a new study. Using fruit flies as their subjects, they concluded that hunger can have a significant affect on both mood and ability to make good decisions. This must explain my door slamming and insult hurling. Researchers found that when fruit flies are hungry, the way they seek food and what they eat changes completely. They found that hungry flies showed no reaction whatsoever to carbon dioxide, a substance which can be hazardous to the species. The behavior of fed flies, on the other hand, remained the same. They continued to be able to discern bad carbon dioxide from the good carbon dioxide coming from rotting fruit, which is like crack to them. It’s the same way I feel about cupcakes.
“It is fascinating to see the extent to which metabolic processes and hunger affect the processing systems in the brain,” said Ilona Grunwald-Kadow, who headed the study.
Tell me about it. I’m hoping for a cure. [Science Daily]