There are a number of reasons why your diet can impact your mood and it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the underlying causes that may be making you angry and causing aggressive behavior issues.
An Eastern View of An Angry Diet
According to Chinese Medicine, certain foods are overstimulating and that overstimulation can be heating to the body. Brendan Kelly, an acupuncturist and herbalist wrote in his book “The Yin and Yang of Climate Crisis,” that coffee is one of the most overstimulating foods that you can put in your body. It causes an excess of Yang energy or movement, and a lack of Yin energy or contentment, which can create a wide range of symptoms, most notably, anger and aggression. According to Kelly, sugar, spicy foods, and excessive alcohol are also overstimulating to the body and can result in irritation.
Beyond Chinese Medicine, the Indian science of Ayurveda, known as the sister science to yoga, has a similar take. According to Shubhra Krishan in her book "Essential Ayurveda," certain foods can cause a Pitta dosha imbalance. Ayurveda balances the body's life energies, known in the practice as doshas called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. If you are a Pitta dosha by nature, or you have a Pitta imbalance, certain foods can exacerbate the imbalance. For fiery Pittas, an imbalance can result in anger and agitation. While an Ayurvedic diet is more complicated to follow, in general, spicy foods, coffee, and caffeinated beverages, as well as alcohol also cause anger.
A Western Take on An Angry Diet
Research at the University of California found that a diet high in bad fats, particularly trans-fats, could also cause aggression. The study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that too many trans-fats interrupted that metabolism of fats in the brain causing aggression. It also results in too few omega-3 fatty acids, which are important to staving off depression and anti-social behavior.
Beyond particular foods, a lack of carbohydrates in general can also have an impact. Transitioning from a high carbohydrate diet to a low carbohydrate diet can make you irritable, but these transitional side effects are not permanent. This is because without carbohydrates, your body uses fat stores called ketones for energy, which can result in side effects like irritability, dizziness, and fatigue, according to Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek, authors of "The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living." This is why Phinney recommends including a few extra tablespoons of a fat like butter or olive oil in the beginning to keep your energy reserves up. Eating whole grains rather than white carbs may also do the trick.
Dieting in General Can Make You Angry
If you’ve every heard the term “hangry” then you know what we’re talking about here.
Dieters actually tend to be crabby when compared to their non-dieting counterparts. While you might have blamed it on a lack of tasty calories or an aversion to rice cakes, research published in the Journal of Consumer Research has shown that the act of exercising willpower alone causes anger and aggression, particularly toward others.
How To Avoid an Angry Diet
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There’s enough anger in the world without choosing a diet that makes it worse. The significant body of research on the subject does call into account a number of similarities. If you’re looking to avoid negative mood swings as a result of your diet, avoid the following:
- Processed foods
- Trans fats
- Spicy foods
- Excessive alcohol
- Extreme dieting
- Extreme cut backs in certain food groups
At the same time, certain foods make you feel calm and collected. While coffee is overstimulating, Kelly contends that green, burdock, and dandelion teas are all cooling to the body and can actually remove some of the heat that can cause aggression. Certain other foods can actually make you feel calm. Additionally, chocolate, especially extra dark chocolate, can create a positive mood, according to a study published in the November 2013 issue of Nutrition Reviews.
Try These Calming Foods
- Dark chocolate
- Mango (It contains the compound linalool, which helps lower stress levels.)
- Whole grains
- A moderate diet without ups or downs
Does your diet piss you off? We want to hear about it. Let us know via Twitter @OrganicAuthorit
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