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Don’t start a discussion on an empty stomach

There can’t be many marriages that escape the occasional heated discussion. But you’d be wise not to start a discussion when you’re hungry. It seems that with low blood sugar any discussion is likely to escalate into a heated argument, or things can even get physical. These are the conclusions of a recent US research in which 107 married couples took part in some unusual experiments. The couples had been together for an average of 12 years. At the beginning of the study, researchers from Ohio State University used a psychological questionnaire to assess how satisfied the couples were with their relationship.

Low blood sugar = high aggression?

The participants’ level of aggression was assessed every evening for three weeks using voodoo figures. This method was developed and tested in earlier research. Each participant is given a figure and every evening, without the partner watching, they can stick up to 51 pins into it. The more needles, the higher the levels of anger and annoyance directed at the marriage partner. Participants were asked to measure their blood sugar in the mornings before breakfast and in the evenings before going to bed. The result: the lower the blood sugar level in the evening, the more pins were stuck into the voodoo figure, in other words the more aggressive they felt towards their marriage partner. This correlation was evident regardless of how happy the participants were in general with their relationship.

The second experiment

In a second experiment the couples played a simulated computer game They were under he impression they were playing against their partner, but in fact they were playing against the computer. After each round, the winner was allowed to decide for how long and how loudly their partner would be subjected to a mixture of unpleasant sounds via earphones. The results were similar to the first experiment: the lower the blood sugar the worse the noise attacks on their partner.

Your brain needs energy for self control

The explanation is that when your blood sugar level drops, there is less glucose available for your body, including your brain. Exercising self control takes quite a lot of energy. With low blood sugar levels, it becomes more and more difficult to control emotions and impulses and this leads to aggressive behaviour. Scientists recommend that you not only never go shopping on an empty stomach, but also that you don’t start difficult and sensitive discussions with your partner. They intend to continue the series of experiments to check that the results always hold true.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de