What’s better than eating when you’re angry or upset?

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, turning to food to manage strong emotions isn’t a recommended way to cope.

angry lady

The obvious problem with eating when we’re angry is adding calories to our day that our body will store as fat. A less obvious, but equally important problem, is the foods most of us eat when we’re trying to calm feelings with food. Nutritious food generally isn’t a prerequisite, but highly palatable is. That means we don’t tear into the salad bowl; we’re looking for the fatty, salty, sugary stuff.

If you’re rarely angry or upset eating to cope is less of a problem, though not ideal. If you’re often angry it matters a lot.

There may also be a correlation between anger and diets. If your diet forces you to eat too little to be satisfied, and avoid certain foods or entire food groups, you might often get angry. Anger could actually provide you with justification to go off track.

A satisfying food plan for weight reduction may help you maintain your temper and cheerful outlook on life. Sometimes, however, that’s not enough. Things happen that are too frustrating for you to remain calm. You react with anger and then you feel driven to eat. It’s not a great response. There are better ways to deal with anger that don’t undermine all your health and weight-related goals.

Eating a healthful diet that includes a few treats and keeps you feeling full and satisfied helps. Two more ways to avoid anger are physical activity/fitness and quality rest nightly (or daily if you work through the night.)


When we get angry we release cortisol and adrenaline.

High levels of these of these hormones are linked with increased hunger. That explains why we experience the urge to eat when we’re angry. Regular exercise, on the other hand, helps the body learn how to regulate cortisol and adrenaline levels more effectively.



Exercise makes your body release “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.

Physical fitness can help keep you in a good mood, thus less likely to get angry over minor irritants.

Sleep deprivation has a strong connection to bad moods. 

You may know that but if you are constantly in a state of sleep deprivation you don’t realize that your bad mood and frequent bursts of anger have become your “normal.”

Getting a good night’s sleep every night isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. You’ll benefit in multiple ways by making sleep a priority. Sleeping allows the mind to rest and rebuild damaged cells and neural pathways. People who are rested find good moods easier to maintain. They have increased ability to stay calm in situations that might make them angry were they skimping on their sleep.

Shut down the computer and go to bed.

Shut down the computer and go to bed.

Physical fitness and sleep can reduce anger, but not all the time. It could be a lot less often, it may take more to stir your anger, but there will be times when it’s inevitable.

Here are 4 ways to manage anger without food.

  1. Change your focus. When we’re angry we tend to focus on what’s making us mad. That can escalate our anger and make us feel victimized. If we focus on the solution we start to regain our power and gain back the feelings of control.
  2. Let it go. Don’t hold a grudge. Getting angry may not be avoidable, but you can choose not to stay angry. You can’t change what people do, but you can change your reaction to their actions.
  3. Do something you enjoy. No, I don’t mean eat, although I won’t argue that eating is fun. Do something fun that demands your attention and concentration.
  4. Try breathing exercises. They are effective in reversing physical symptoms of anger and can help you to relax and slow your heart rate to more normal levels.


Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.