Opinion

April 15, 2014

Misty Watson: When blood sugar drops, anger rises

It wouldn’t have taken 107 married couples and 21 days to figure out that being hungry makes people angry.

It would have only taken spending one busy day with me, a day so busy that I didn’t have time to eat regularly.

In my world, hunger always equals anger. My self-control goes right out the window when my blood sugar level drops. I also get shaky and light-headed. And the little bit of filter I have becomes nonexistent.

Just ask my spouse or my co-workers or my closest friends and family. They’ve pretty much all been on the receiving end of my rage when all I really need is a granola bar.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday states that spouses are more aggressive when their blood sugar levels are low. We need energy to maintain our self-control and the energy to do that comes from glucose derived from the foods we eat.

My initial reaction upon hearing this on the radio Tuesday morning was “And you needed a study to tell you this?! What’s next?! Telling us our children misbehave when they’re hungry?! Of course people are angrier when they’re hungry.”

Then I ate some breakfast and my aggression toward the ridiculousness of conducting this study subsided.

Once I read the abstract, I realized the study is pretty interesting, and I wish I had been a part of it. Couples were asked to measure their glucose and aggressive impulses. They were given a voodoo doll that represented their spouse, and each night could stick up to 51 pins in it, depending on their level of anger. Then they competed with their spouse and the winner was able to blast their spouse with loud noises.

The spouses with the lowest glucose levels used more pins and did longer and louder noise blasts.

I’m sure my husband Chris is happy we weren’t asked to participate in this study, though. On a good day my voodoo doll of Chris would probably have had no fewer than 25 pins. His voodoo doll of me would have never had more than 25 pins. (Don’t worry. Our marriage is very stable and our balance works. He just laughs and tells me to go fix a peanut butter sandwich when I’m getting irritable.)

Now this isn’t to say that hunger is always the reason we’re snippy with others. There are a lot of factors at play — stress from work, physical or emotional pain, feeling lonely or feeling tired/sleepy.

This is when I go back to pHALT, an acronym for potty/pain, hungry, angry, lonely and tired, which I’ve mentioned before. It’s a checklist to see what’s making children act out so you don’t discipline children unjustly when they just need to be fed.

Think about how you react to those around you in each of those circumstances. How often do we say something like “I’m sorry I snapped. I had a bad day at work and I’m so tired and hungry because I had to skip lunch for a meeting and I’m angry at something my boss said to me plus I stubbed my pinky toe on your shoes when I walked in the door.”

Though pHALT was developed for parents to better meet the needs of their children, I find it is often just as effective when used on adults, myself included.

I want to clue those who conducted this study in on this checklist. In fact, if I had known the phone number to the radio station where they were discussing this study Tuesday morning, I would have called them and shared it there.

When I get snippy, I try to take a deep breath and assess the situation. Why is my self-control gone?

I’m sure at least four out of five times the solution would be found in a handful of trail mix.

Murray County native Misty Watson is a staff writer and photographer for The Daily Citizen. You can contact her at mistywatson@daltoncitizen.com, facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN or on Twitter, @mistydwatson.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Move carefully, but soon

    No one intended for it to happen. No one had any bad motives.
    But during a period of 40 years or more, quite a few people didn’t do enough planning, didn’t have enough foresight to see what all of the development in Dalton would do.

    July 27, 2014

  • Local school systems must bear costs of federal immigration failure

    No word. No warning. Little help.
    That’s what Dalton Public Schools officials received from the federal government when it dropped 30 Central American students into local classrooms last school year.

    July 26, 2014

  • Sacrifices worth honoring

    Members of the Dalton City Council were recently approached by representatives of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart with a request to declare Dalton a Purple Heart City. Council members indicated they will approve the request.

    July 24, 2014

  • We must do better

    The numbers tell a sad tale.
    Registered voters: 36,843.
    Cards cast: 5,307.
    That means the turnout for Tuesday’s runoffs in Whitfield County was a measly 14.4 percent, according to unofficial results from the Whitfield County elections office.

    July 23, 2014

  • Letter: Control immigration

    Thousands are starting to pour into our country, and things are getting personal. Why would we end up the bad guys if we turn away children who aren’t ours? How does it make us better people to let one man steal from our children and stand by and do nothing?

    July 23, 2014

  • Helping with Book Blast betters the community

    The school test results are in, and students in Whitfield and Murray counties mostly improved from a year ago, mirroring or exceeding average scores of their peers.

    July 23, 2014

  • Mark Millican: Guns are already everywhere

    Though it happened over 30 years ago, the image is still vivid.

    July 22, 2014

  • Charles Oliver: Former officer works overtime improperly

    Stephen F. Hall has pleaded guilty to theft by deception and falsifying a government record.

    July 22, 2014

  • Dalton council should seek answers

    Judicial elections in this area are usually pretty staid. In fact, they are generally nonexistent, since most judges run unopposed.

    July 21, 2014

  • Letter: Something to think about

    It has been better than four months now since Malaysia Flight 370 went missing. During that time we have heard all kinds of speculation, conjecture and opinions as to what happened to it. The only certainties to emerge are that the Malaysians fumbled the ball early on and there are some understandably distressed loved ones left to deal with their losses.

    July 21, 2014