Whoever came up with the term 'hanger', you were bang on.
I see quite a few people in my office who can't leave the house without a snack in their pocket. First it starts with a bit of anxiety, then come slight shakes, then full on aaaaaangry... all in a span of 1 minute or less. To which I respond: I hear ya. I've had Dan run to find me a banana when we couldn't decide what to eat for dinner. Not a good scene.
Why this happens:
When blood sugar tanks (called hypoglycemia), the symptoms can feel like an anxiety attack: irritability, shakes, sweating, nervousness, etc. A hormone called glucagon gets released in order to free sugar stores from your liver. Insulin from your pancreas tells the cells to take the sugar in. This should be enough to keep your body calm, but if the process is slow or if the cells aren't responding to sugar and insulin properly, hanger ensues.
Problems relating to blood sugar regulation include diabetes, anxiety, insomnia, PCOS, and insulin resistance. Often, chronic stress can contribute to hanger (as if you needed something else to stress about...)
What to do:
1. Exercise. Cardio helps the body to respond to sugar and insulin in a nice, smooth fashion. 20-30 minutes, 4-5 times per week.
2. Always have protein, fat, or fibre with your carbohydrates, especially if they're simple carbs (hint: if it will dissolve in water, it's a simple carb). Simple carbs will spike sugar and insulin, causing a subsequent crash. If you're not making this a smooth transition, get ready for the hanger.
3. Snack. Have small snacks between meals. If you're prone to hypoglycemia during the day and also have insomnia, consider having a protein-rich snack before bed.
4. Consider supplements. There are many herbals and minerals that can help your body respond to insulin and sugar such as gymnemma or chromium. Ask your ND which ones are best for you, and make sure you're getting safe and effective doses. Often these are short-term and can work wonders.
Also, remember that your loved ones love you, that's why they run to get you that banana. Help return the favour. Get help your hanger.