When we experience an outburst of anger, during an argument or as a reaction about something in our lives, that anger burns up energy. Since food gives us energy, we may very well be trying to replace that depleted strength when we overeat after an outburst. Could this be one of the emotional links between anger and food? Do we eat to comfort ourselves and re-energize? I’ve seen this theory in action several times over the last few days. In one instance, someone I know confronted their friend about spreading rumors and talking behind their back. I watched as this person began eating more food than usual, and specifically food that they associated with their childhood. Within minutes after the face-off, which did not go well, this person put on the kettle to make tea, went to the fridge to get an assortment of sweet foods, and proceeded to stuff themselves. Witnessing this, I began to think about the root causes behind anger and overeating.
How does this relate to your own experiences? Can you think of times where there was a clear connection between anger and overeating? What can you learn – and change – once you are in touch with these feelings?
You know – for me when I eat out of anger it’s really more about not wanting to face the facts, to feel what I’m dealing with. I find I generally eat to KEEP myself from feeling anger. If I find myself overeating when I’m angry it’s usually because I want to stuff something down. In those cases I eat food associated with my childhood because I want to feel connected to something sweet – something comforting. The pain of facing the unknown sometimes feels like it’s greater than dealing with the pain of facing the well known (the feelings of numbness or even of dissatisfaction that I feel after overeating). However, some scientists are saying that these eating patterns are actually driven by my addiction to the dopamine response I get from certain foods. In other words, what I’m looking for is a dopamine spike in my brain to make me feel better (dopamine is one of the most powerful drugs on the planet).
One of the most powerful ways that I’ve been able to break this cycle of overeating has been to become consciously willing to feel my feelings. At times I have had to talk myself through the overwhelm and encourage myself to risk feeling whatever feeling may be coming up rather than reaching for the food. Although, I think your point about the connection between the need for energy and reaching for sweets is an interesting one. I certainly think it makes sense. I’m interested to hear more about this. What else do you see?
I can definitely see the connection between anger and overeating although it seems the emotions that come up are what we seek to soothe with the comfort of our favorite foods. The anger is the trigger for the emotions and then we don’t always know how to deal with the emotions as to why we got angry to begin with.
I find myself able to express my anger – to even be able to say what is bothering me – after I’ve overeaten. It’s as though food gives me permission to feel what I am feeling for a moment but shortly thereafter it just numbs.
I overeat when I feel overwhelmed by frustration and/or anger that i.cannot express.I recently went to a weight watchers group where i expressed by stress eating…they suggested going onto my stationary bike or buying a wide variety of chewing gum.
Im having issues with my anger, ill suffer extreme outbursts over the smallest things and then binge on junk food after. I would also over eat when im stressed or upset and this also makes me very irritable.I hate feeling this way. I feel like this behaviour has began to take over my life since im starting to push people away and putting on alot of weight. Which inturn is aiding to my low self-esteem. I dunno what to do. I dont like being this person and I dont want these behaviours to rule my life. I know I need to change but Im feeling very lost in how to go about it.