Anger and Eating

Steph Wagner

March 9, 2022

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Anger and Eating and Bariatric Surgery


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What is with anger and eating? Is angry eating a thing?

Click below to listen to this blog!

Let’s talk about anger (and frustration)

Anger can be defined as the intense emotion we feel when something has gone wrong or we feel someone has wronged us. Frustration is a bit different and can be better described as feeling annoyed at not being able to change or achieve something.

While the emotions have their differences, they are very much related. Frustration can be connected to our insecurities or uncertainties. Frustration may also be a slower process that steadily increases while anger might be a response of a built up frustration.

Anger triggers the body’s fight or flight system, much like stress. The adrenal glands flood the body with cortisol and adrenaline. Heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and body temperature all increase as the mind sharpens and gets focused.

But something I find particularly interesting, is how we all handle anger differently.



Anger and our personalities

As I studied anger and eating, one thing I found interesting is the amount of commentary around how our personalities handle anger differently.

Personally, I am a verbal processor. Thank goodness for my patient friends and family who let me “vent” as I get my anger out so I can release it and move forward!

Certainly we all experience anger and frustration, but what we do with it looks very different. For those who may suppress anger, they may be more likely to turn to food as an escape. It’s even more complicated when they feel angry with themselves for eating, and then eat in their anger!

Managing anger is key just like managing stress. We are going to have stress and we are going to get angry.

Remember, cortisol is in the equation and is a very powerful driver to fuel up for the fight. Managing anger (and stress) in healthy ways allows us to not only bring cortisol down so we don’t go towards food, but to feel better overall, even if the situation itself hasn’t changed.





Managing anger

You might remember, the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for letting us know that we are not in danger. It’s really important we engage that system after a moment of anger.

Anger management is something much studied and information is highly available. If anger is impacting your mood and health, spend time researching anger management techniques.

Here are some tips:

When you are angry, take a timeout and once you’re calm, express your anger. This could be to a safe friend, to the person you need to talk to or it could even be putting pen to paper.

Spend time identifying possible solutions. Similar to working through stress, can anything be delegated or changed.

Stick with I statements when you’re addressing someone.

Don’t hold a grudge and use humor to release tension.

Handling conflict and anger doesn’t tend to come naturally to us. It’s helps to admit that.  Use your tools to get back to calm (breathing, nature, music) and then think through the problem and how you want to talk through it.

And again, if there are certain relationships or situations that you feel are beyond what you can manage, start the process for working with a mental health professional. They may be able to help you find resolution or to make peace with what you’re facing.



Hunger and Anger (Hangry)

There is an interesting dichotomy about anger and hunger we need to cover.

Hunger stimulates some of the same systems involved in emotions.  When someone has a low blood sugar brought on from hunger, it can spur feelings of anger. You’ve probably heard the word “hangry” and this is why!

We might even view things in a more negative light when we are hungry. In addition, hunger can release cortisol. Cortisol is involved in anger and in stress. This is a good example of how the hedonic system and homeostatic system are interconnected. Keeping a consistent meal pattern is important for both systems to feel regulated.

So whether the hunger has made you feel angry, or an event or relationship has made you feel angry…the truth of the matter is…we are going to experience anger. Sometimes it is warranted.



Stay tuned, next up fatigue and eating

We have several more emotions to cover! This emotional eating blog series is a tidbit of the information I’ve covered for members during our Winter Get Focused Challenge.

This information will be released in a video course format and made available to members.


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Emotions Covered on Previous Blog Posts:

The Two Systems that Influence Eating (Series Intro)

Bored Eating

Stress Eating

Sad/Depressed/Lonely Eating

Anxious Eating

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