Hangry just made it into the urban dictionary, but chances are it’s a word you already know, because if you’ve ever been hungry enough to lose your cool, you’ve been hangry.

As you may have figured, hangry is an amalgam of hungry and angry, and it happens when you go too long without eating. For some people, the drop in blood-glucose caused by going too long without eating can signal a life-threatening situation to your brain, which runs on glucose. Your brain then signals your body to release hormones that raise the level of glucose in your blood, and that’s where the irritability comes in.

Why Hangry Happens

In response to low blood-glucose, your body releases growth hormone, glucagon, adrenaline, and cortisol. Adrenaline is also a hormone released during a fight or flight response, which is part of the reason why you lose your cool so easily when you’re hangry.

Unfortunately, for those of us who forget to pack a snack, hunger and anger and aggression are also both controlled by the same gene, which is a doubly whammy of circumstance that makes it important to stay on top of your appetite.

How to Hold Off Hangry

As you could probably have guessed, the best way to prevent getting hangry is to make sure you don’t go too long without eating. If you notice that this is especially a problem for you, get in the habit of keeping a healthy snack on hand when you leave your home.

Choose your snack wisely, too. When you get hungry beyond reason, you’ll probably be tempted to have a candy bar or chips or whatever junk food is convenient. Sadly, those foods are just quick fixes, which cause huge spikes in glucose that will crash even harder later on. Instead, eat something nutrient rich that will keep you from feeling hungry for a long time, like nuts, cheese, yogurt or any foods high in fiber, which provide a volume of food and take longer to digest.

It’s important to try to minimize your hangry occurrences. Stress is bad for your body, but being hangry can cause us to snap at those we are closest to, putting a strain on our personal relationships. And since the solution to the problem is as simple as a healthy delicious snack, you’ve got nothing to lose except your bad mood.