Many of us can remember a time—perhaps that time is even this very moment—when we turned to food because we were angry, enraged, or holding onto other highly negative feelings. For many of us, anger is an emotion we live with every day, a cloak behind which we hide and seethe.
While you are longing for that weight to be lifted from your body, your mind, and your very soul, you may be burying your anger with food. What do you eat when you are angry? What types of foods are you drawn to in an attempt to cool the fires that rage on within you, suppress the desire to strike out with hateful words, or eliminate the tightness that grips and paralyzes you?
If you are an emotional eater, food is a way to avoid your feelings, at least temporarily. When you focus on cookies and pizza, you divert your attention away from your anger, your hurt, your frustrations. For a short time, at least for as long as you are eating, you may feel in control and more powerful than your thoughts.
One problem, however, is that your anger can give way to feelings of guilt or shame because you have eaten too much. You may feel physically ill, which may be a combination of what you have consumed along with your emotional state. These feelings now fuel more anger with yourself, and the cycle begins again: anger, eating, shame.
Sugary, salty, starchy, and fried foods are typical favorites when we try to escape feelings of anger. French fries, ice cream, cookies and cakes, potato chips, pasta, chocolate and other candies are high on the list. As you stuff these foods into your body, you internalize your feelings, turn your anger inward, and harm yourself.
You should know that eating in response to feelings of anger and frustration is normal. What is not normal, however, is when such emotional eating becomes a habit and interferes with your quality of life and well-being and prevents you from being your divine and authentic self. Getting and staying angry about a person, situation, or event will not make your pain disappear; it will only make it worse.
So what should you eat when you are feeling angry? Perhaps a better question is, what should you do when you are feeling angry?
Express yourself. If your thoughts turn to food when you are angry, the first action you should take is to recognize that an emotion, and not real hunger, is triggering your desire to eat. Put words to your anger by expressing them in a clear, calm manner to the person you are angry with or, if that is not possible or the focus of your anger is not a person, talk with a trusted friend or family member about how you feel.
Another approach is to express your feelings by writing them down in a notebook or journal. You can then choose to share those words with another person, keep them until you are ready to release them, or burn them in a ceremony.
Stay physically active. When anger or anxiety overwhelm you, dance! You don’t need a partner—you have yourself. Turn up your favorite music and dance it out. Find other enjoyable ways to exercise, such as walking with a friend, doing yoga, swimming, or Zumba.
Choose healthy, calming foods. Some foods are known for their calming qualities because of the specific vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, or other biochemical substances they contain. You can help reduce your feelings of anger by munching on almonds, asparagus, avocados, blueberries, oatmeal, oranges, spinach, and turkey.
Practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, tai chi, mindfulness meditation, yoga, guided visualization, and progressive relaxation exercises are just a few ways to channel your anger.
Try forgiveness and gratitude. Practicing these virtues can help release feelings of anger, pain, and frustration and redirect your focus on the beautiful, meaningful people and things in your life.
When you are angry, food is not the problem, nor is it the answer. Reach into the Divine Feminine core of yourself and face your anger head-on with strategies that don’t involve food or if they do, that include nourishing, calming choices.