Dr. Gregory Jantz

Disordered Eating: When Anger Has Nowhere Else To Go

May 4, 2014

Even when it seems like you’re feeling nothing but numb, lurking beneath the surface is the anger that’s being suppressed by your eating disorder. Here’s how this anger gets triggered by pain, sending you into a cycle that disordered eating destines you to repeat over and over again.

Experiencing pain. Though it is an inevitable part of being human, pain is hard to accept, especially when inflicted by family members and friends who know you best and, presumably, love you most.

Feeling anger. When you experience pain that you feel is unjustified, you’re naturally going to get mad. Who do they think they are, talking to you like that, treating you like that, disregarding you like that?

Needing to vent. When you’re angry, the healthy thing to do is express it. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done with family members and friends who you are afraid of confronting with the truth.

Abusing food. Unable to vent your anger in a healthy manner, you turn to food, using disordered eating to divert your attention from your feelings.

Feeling shame and guilt. The comfort or control you may feel from your disordered eating never lasts long. It’s almost immediately circumvented by feelings of guilt and shame at your self-destructive behavior.

Falling into depression. Even when you know what you’re doing is bad for you, body and soul, your eating disorder convinces you that you have no other choice. The situation feels hopeless. You feel helpless. You’ll never get better. You’ll always feel this way. And that’s when depression sets in.

Hating yourself. When you’re depressed, there’s no “snapping out of it” on command. That combined with shame and guilt at your self-destructive behavior reinforces self-loathing for your helplessness.

Feeling you deserve the pain. You’re such a terrible person, you think, maybe deserve this pain. Why should you expect to feel any other way?
And just like that anger again sets in and the cycle starts all over again.


How does the past influence your perception and processing of anger? Consider these questions from Hope, Help, and Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating:

  1. Complete this sentence: Anger is _____________.
  2. What did you learn about anger as a child?
  3. How did you express anger as a child?
  4. Describe your most recent “anger” experience.
  5. Describe the most angry moment in your entire life.
  6. List the various ways in which you deal with anger.
  7. What pleasure do you get from anger?
  8. Do you have any positive way of getting rid of anger? If so, what is it?
  9. How do you use anger as a weapon against others?
  10. How do you use anger as a weapon against yourself?
  11. What is your definition of anger?
  12. What is your definition of hostility?
  13. What is your definition of aggression?
  14. How do you know when you are angry?
  15. Where do you experience anger?
  16. I feel angry when others ______________.
  17. I feel that may anger is ______________.
  18. When others express their anger, I feel _______________.
  19. I feel that the anger of others is _______________.

If you or a loved one is in the process of recovering from an eating disorder but may need the supervision or support of professional nutritionists, please call the team at The Center • A Place of HOPE at 888.771.5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.