Does Meat Change Your Mood?

I had a strange thing happen to me.stormy clouds by Kristine Paulus

I’ve been feeling deeply stressed. It’s gotten so bad that this morning when I was out walking the dog, there were tears in my eyes. It was a beautiful, gorgeous day and I was out doing something I love. I should have been happy.

Adding to my unhappiness (although certainly not the cause of it) is my weight. I was comfortable with my weight all through the end of last year and up into the New Year. I sailed through Christmas feeling great about where I was. However, at some point after January, things started slipping. I’m working on it. I’ve mentioned that I am getting back to exercising and lifting weights and so forth. I’m not talking about a lot of weight, roughly 7 pounds from where I was, so I decided mid-May to give myself a little challenge: Get back to where I was by the end of June. Seven pounds in 6 weeks seemed doable. Here we are, two weeks into my challenge… and I now I have 10 pounds to lose.

That’s right, I went up 3. It’s not the end of the world, but it is discouraging. I’ve been tweaking my diet, trying to find my groove again. One of the things I’ve been doing is trying to eat for the occasion. The idea is simple – I usually know what my day is going to be like, so I should eat for that. Just like you pick out the right clothes for the right activity, I wanted to try eating for the day. If I was lifting weights, up the protein. If I was going to sit on my butt at work all day and then sit some more at night when I went to the theatre, then eat lighter. Going out with friends? Eat really healthy during the day so I could blow off a little steam at night without terrible consequences. It seemed perfect.

It was terrible.

I don’t know why I doesn’t work for me, but it doesn’t. It seems so logical! But my body hates it. In fact, I didn’t realize quite how much it was backfiring until today.

One of the things I have cut down is my amount of protein. I haven’t cut it out completely, but I’ve been eating less unless I know I am going to work out. On a rest days I’ve been concentrating on counting calories instead. So, I get home from the dog walk, tears in eyes, feeling like I just want to go back to bed. It’s a workday though, so that isn’t an option. I go to make a light breakfast when it suddenly hits me – I want a protein shake. I’m craving it. I make one, no big deal. Along with it I have some meat and some mushrooms.

And almost instantly I feel better.

Twenty minutes after my high protein breakfast I had a wave of energy. I felt wonderful. It wasn’t a slight “lifting of the mood” it was a tsunami of “Let’s DO this!” It was great! And it lasted, I felt better all day. I’m still stressed, but I’m not feeling that upset about it.

A coworker suggested that there are vitamins in the shake that might have helped with mood. I’m also hormonal, so I thought the iron might be helping. Then I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a few weeks. I hopped onto My Fitness Pal and looked up my food logs for last November.

Last November I was as slim as I have ever been, I was feeling good, and I wasn’t exercising all that much. (It had gotten cold and I wasn’t doing any outdoor cardio at all.) I have mixed feelings when people say “You know how to lose weight, just go back and do what you were doing,” because I feel that just because something worked when I was 170, doesn’t mean it will work at 140, however, I can’t argue the logic. It’s pain to look at past food logs on your phone (which is usually how I use My Fitness Pal,) but I finally sat down on desktop computer and looked it up.

In November, I was eating high protein breakfasts every. single. day. I had a lighter lunches and a very simple dinners. The goal was to eat a gram of protein for each pound of my weight, and to eat over half of those grams in breakfast. This is what my body loves – and this is the exact opposite of what I have been doing.

I am not saying this would work well for everyone. I think different people have different metabolisms and react to different foods in diverse ways. My body seems to react well to this – not just on the physical side, but on the mental side as well. Fair enough, I am smart enough to take the hint. I’ll take all the help I can get. Guess I’ll be thawing out steaks for breakfast again!

Photo credit: Kristine Paulus via flickr

 

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2 thoughts on “Does Meat Change Your Mood?

  1. Protein definitely is something I need. Not steaks for breakfast, but an egg works wonders to keep me steady until lunchtime. Cheese, yoghurt…anything to balance out the carbs. Sounds like you’re on the right track to finding your balance. Bon courage!

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