Avoid Hunger to Maintain Dynamics of a Relationship: Starvation causes Marital Squabble


We have heard that an empty mind is a devil’s home, but have you ever heard that empty stomach can even turn you into a devil? “Hangry” is the word that describes the situation even better, which is being hungry to an extend that it makes one angry. A new study conducted on married couples suggests that hunger makes couples aggressive and angry. 

For 21 days, researchers from the Ohio State University’s department of communications and psychology closely monitored 107 couples who were married for an average of 12 years. Researchers specifically chose married couples for the trail because they wanted to conduct the trail outside a controlled environment.

They discovered a direct link between blood sugar level and feeling of anger against a partner. The result showed that when the blood sugar level dropped, usually at night, husband and wives tend to fight more.

As per lead study author and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, Dr. Brad Bushman, lower blood sugar level due to dieting, skipping a meal may be the reason that makes a person lose their self-control, and making them aggressive and angry.

brain require fuel like glucose to help maintain self regulation on emotions

Glucose and Sugar are fuels for the Brain

Bushman explains that the brain constitutes only 2% of the body weight but consumes nearly 20% of the calories to work efficiently. Glucose and sugar acts as a fuel for the brain, which in turn help the person to exercise self-control on angry feelings and aggressive impulses. In the absence of the fuel, the person’s brain struggles to regulate self control on his/her emotions like anger. Therefore, hungry people are often the crankiest ones too.

Findings from the study are the first ever to confirm how low blood sugar level may be a factor in marital squabble and even violence, said Dr. Bushman.

voodoo doll test to measure aggressive behavior of couples

Voodoo doll experiment

During the 21-day experiment, researchers examined the blood sugar levels of the couples before breakfast in the morning and before bedtime in the night. To measure the aggressive impulses, researchers provided the couples with voodoo dolls, which represented their partners. The couples were asked to insert needles (0 to 51 needles) as per their feeling of anger towards their partner.

Researchers found that the individuals with low blood sugar levels inserted the maximum number of pins than those who had high levels of blood sugar. And female inserted more needles in their voodoo doll representing their husbands, but the result wasn’t of any importance. The researchers only found the relation to blood sugar level during the night as the amount of sugar in the body fall throughout the daytime.

Hungry people are often very cranky

On the 21 day end, to test the aggressive behavior of the individuals, the researchers asked the couples to compete against their partner in a computer game in which they had to press a button fastest. Whoever wins the game gets to blast their partner with loud, annoying noise using headphones. However, the couples were not aware of the fact that they were playing against a computer and were not competing with each other in reality.

This computer game also revealed that the individuals with lowest blood sugar level during the night were the one who send the most annoying, louder and longer duration noises to their partners, irrespective of whether they were male or female or how content they were with their relationship.

Low blood sugar level leads to marital squabble

Analyzing the findings from the study, Bushman suggests that couples should avoid taking up sensitive matters in an empty stomach and rather should discuss them over a table while eating their meals or just after finishing meals to maintain self-control on emotions like anger. He further adds that lower blood sugar often provokes hormones to activate the fight or flight system in the body and makes the person aggressive, irritated and hyper angry.

Therefore, instead of tackling problems empty stomach, it is advisable to talk about the matter over a table while consuming meals. It is also suggested to introduce small meal during the day times so as to maintain regular blood sugar level in the body, after all our brain functions throughout the day and night, it requires it regular fuel supply.

Images: Florida Blue, Sciencemag, Beat102103

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