I touted a vegan (well almost – the occasional piece of fish was seen crossing my lips) for almost 8 years. During that time, I remember thinking nothing of it, in terms of the way I felt. I simply felt the way I felt and that’s the way it was supposed to be. Then one day, on a first date, in fact, amid the excitement and newness of it all, I broke stride – in a BIG WAY. My first taste and step back into the world of dominating the food chain was sausage and cheese pizza! Yikes. I survived, and for the better. After that bite of protein and amino acid rich sausage, my body broke free from the reigns of restriction for a brief period, and began to demand some sort of meat at just about every meal! Whoa, was that a change.
Since that time, I’ve never gone back to the vegan lifestyle, but have succumbed to other restrictions in my way of eating – some for the good, and others…
In all of this time, though, I have carried with me a history of being “tightly wound,” “Type A,” “a worry wart.” These are really just euphemisms for describing my tendency towards anxiety.
As a result of all of that, and as a part of this last year of transformation for me, I’ve done quite a bit of research on diet and mental health. Self discovery is truly amazing, as is knowledge and information – and influence. Over a year ago, I had one of the most positive people in my life say to me, “Ashley, it’s pretty much impossible to feel anxious and overwhelmed when eating protein.” What? Really, protein is like a prescription drug, in a way. He’s right – as my heart begins to race and my breath shortens with a tight chest and racing thoughts, I am now (sometimes) able to take a step back and analyze my consumption for the day. What have I eaten? Any protein? Enough protein? Hmmm.
Instead of popping some sort of a pill (not that I ever resorted to that), right now, popping a morsel of meat on the tongue tends to do the trick!
Apparently Psychology Today agrees with me.
“The interesting thing about the general trend that vegetarians aren’t quite as mentally healthy as omnivores (in observational studies) is that vegetarians tend to do better in other measures of health. They are better educated, as a population they are generally younger, less likely to smoke or drink, more likely to exercise, and they tend to care about ethics and the quality of their food. However, vegetarians are also more likely to be female (which is more likely to be associated with anxiety, depression, and eating disorders by a long shot).”