Overeating When Angry


I tend to eat a lot when I am angry. What do i do?

—subir, india


Dear Subir,

God, Divine Mother, gives us gifts and we often miss the opportunity. This question of yours is a good one because it points not to what is wrong but what is truly wanting to happen. She is waiting, Yogananda is ready, so what do you say we take the next step and let them play with us?

I give you credit for acknowledging this issue. The first step is to accept the truth and you have done just that. It is obvious you wish to break this hold on you and set a new direction; to be free from the behavior to eat for the wrong reasons and to remove the anger response. OK, (rubbing my hands together!) now you are already declaring/affirming your openess for change so let’s begin to work together, providing we do so with Divine Mother, She doing 50%, Guru 25% and you (with my help here now) offering up the remaining 25%!

#1) Start with checking your overall energy. Do you have enough and is it balanced? Is it more satvic, having a quality of calm, inward and upliftment? Do you feel at peace? (Chances are “No” as that’s why you’re writing) Or is it more outward, fleeting and leaving you tired? We call this rajasic energy Or is it depressed, leading to darkness, tamasic? I believe from your short note that you’re likely experiencing lower amounts of energy, being depleted and tired and then “over”-reacting to outside circumstances and inner disappointments. My guess is you are tired, sensitive, and therefor firey/angry with certain circumstances. I would classify your circumstance as rajasic, wih the desire to leave this swinging pendulum of excitement and disappointment making you first angry then upset. And no better way to douse the fire of emotion, nervousness and brain-activity than with abundant food to dull the senses and mind. And done enough times, this behaviour and inappropriate unhealthy eating becomes addictive, physically and emotionally. Naturally you want to change. After all, who wants “pain & suferring”?

#2) Before we talk about the eating-anger relationship, it’s important to detach yourself from the circumstance that is making you angry. Play with me here…Try to understand that you are not the Doer nor the Receiver. It is Her, Ma, God, playing through you. Do not attempt to own the angry reaction nor set conditions that result in your anger. See it playing out as a dispassionate observer, and set no agenda while being aware and cautious of your past inclinations to do so. Give thanks for the ability to see clearly now that you’re becoming dispassionate. Make sure you go to a peaceful place, physically and emotionally (these words again). Stay away from anything that irritates or fires you up! Avoid Rajas. this includes food, friends, environments. Replace them with soothing uplifting aspects of Spirit: do you have an altar, or a quiet place to meditate? Then ask God for guidance, i.e.; pray for strength and peace, calmness and light, wisdom and energy, love and joy. All are good, but only one or two if you’re already befuddled and off-centered by whatever is pushing your button!

#3) Circumvent your tendency to anger and to conditional eating with techniques/practices from Yogananda’s training and lessons with mantra, japa, affirmations throughout the day, but especially when you feel yourself being drawn out into anger. Try “I am filled with the presence of God & Guru. I am whole and full as I always am. I draw God’s Light and Love to nourish my body and mind.”

#4) Read, practice and live the timeless instructions from a Guru such as Yogananda. Tune into his spiritual strength and what he offers us, complete freedom, Moksha and a life in God. The first two steps from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, found within Yogananda’s teachings and specifically explained in The Art & Science of Raja Yoga book, the Yamas & Niyamas, are critical and direct actions for changing habits and directing us back into preparing for our highest consciousness. They literally circumvent and dissipate Karma. Read them, understand them and practice the rest of your life. Again, find a still place, pray to the Guru, imagine being with him and ask for guidance and strength to overcome this habit. And if for some reason you still react and eat unhealthy, declare what Swami Kriyananda used to say when overcoming a smoking addiction, “I haven’t yet succeeded!” And then get back to your practices. And love God.

#5) Without dwelling on one issue, do ask, “What is making me angry?” We often have expectations of others and of ourselves, of circumstances that we really have no control over and become/channel anger when our desires aren’t met. Give responsibility for others and their behaviours over to God. Have you heard the admonition, “Change me, not my circumstances!”? Peace and calmness can enter into our whole being when we loosen our grasp on people, things, and results. Yogananda said, with these teachings and pranayams, “You can stand unshaken midst the crash of breaking worlds!” He meant this for each and every one of us and for all circumstances. He also said never let any one get your goat, because your goat is your Peace. They cannot take it away. According to the Vedas, it is who you really are. With these tools of mediation, their practice, your own willingness, willpower and energy you, yourself, can feel, see and know it in your own life. You will experience its manifested Truth in this very challenge you share.

#6) Remember, in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says “Even a little practice of this inward religion will free one from dire fears and collosul suffering.” That is your part, your 25%. Practice what the Guru gives us to make us stronger, to win these battles of life. Be the spiritual warrior like Arjuna. It is alright to have doubts, to have misgivings, disappointments, even failures. But don’t give up. “Fight the battle!” That is when your true strength, your true soul, shines. Imagine, Subir. all that anger, all that reacting, all that unwarranted ill-timed, unhealthy eating — replaced with your own peace, your own wellness, your own joy. It can and will happen. Such a short and simple sounding request, “I overeat when I’m angry, what do I do?” and such a deep life-changing opportunity for higher awareness and God Realization. Feed yourself the bliss of knowing God through these teachngs and all else will disappear; the need for anger, the desire for inappropriate food, to be replaced with expansive life-affirming sweetness feeding you in body, mind and soul, attracting more and more of divine consciousness to you and all who associate with you.

I wish you the very best. If I can be of further help in this or related issues, you can address me personally.

God & Guru bless you, Nayaswami Premdas