Mental Health Aspects to Eating Meat

Admitting I am young in this industry would be the understatement of the year. I have a body that was made for an early-twentysomthin’ gal who wasn’t going to beat it up too badly, whoops. My mind has outrun my body by a long shot, leaving my thoughts to be those of a much wiser and much more traveled soul. I’m not chalked full of wise words to live by, but saying that “nutrition is everything” wouldn’t be too far fetched. Day after day I read a different version of the same discussion that is crucial to us AGvocates. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the different perspectives that both parties bring to the table for expert opinions or research projects. However, there is one voice that seems to stay quiet in this ethics dispute and that is psychology.

The theory that the study of psychology strictly focuses on the unstable and insane, is simply a myth. Psychology is the study of any kind of cognitive choice that your mind makes or that you make with your mind. However, psychology gets a bad rep due to the bad rep that mental disorders get. When was the last time that you met someone and the first thing they said was, “Hi I am Pam, and I have depression.” The rarity of that occurring is extremely unlikely because of the bad reputation that mental disorders have been tagged with. People with mental disorders rarely are ready to tattoo their disorder to their foreheads and put on a superhero costume called “The Hyperactive Hero” that knocks out all those supervillains in a child with ADHD’s life called, well, everything. Individuals affected with a mood disorder more often than not spend huge chunks of time trying to stifle that huge piece of their life.

With all that being said, I ask for your respect during this post because I will be sharing bits and pieces of my own story. This is a huge leap of bravery and you are reading the result of hands that were trembling, so please show the respect that would be expected of you for any of my other posts, and feel free to ask questions, make polite comments, or close the page.

April of 2011 I was diagnosed with moderate-severe bipolar disorder type 2. If you were to ask my opinion on being diagnosed, it would be full of anger and resentment that is tethered back to nowhere. Ask me today what my opinions about bipolar are and you will hear an answer that is full of sincerity and truth, decorated with lessons that truly have been learned. The road that’s led me here has not been easy by any means, my mind doesn’t ever want to wander down the simple paths, so this was only characteristic of my hard-headedness. There are two dark sides to bipolar- mania and depression. However, those are just vague name tags for all of the symptoms that are the true deviants. Depression a much deeper and scarier kind of sadness and loneliness. Feeling worthless, skipping meals due to no appetite, isolating oneself, sleeping too much, feeling fatigued, and loss of self-esteem make up a recipe for depression that is nastier than a week old dead possum in southern Texas over Labor Day. I find the mania much harder on my body seeing as it’s ingredients consist of reckless behavior and poor judgement, little need for sleep (hmm… wonder why this is getting done at 8:30 am), increased energy that can push you to work out harder and in turn get hurt, skipping meals, taking too much on, talking too much or too fast, and going on spending sprees all make up for a pretty exhausting sentence, let alone a life.

Those things carry negative qualities, this is true, but without them I would never have been able to reach the full potential of my creativity, gained the ability to see emotion in almost everything I see, and my true desire to give back and sheer instinct to know that my life could be worse. For example, I have never had to face the awful reality of nutrient deficiency (more information can be found here). For my entirety, I have been blessed to have red meat on hand daily. That streamlined my brain in the right direction and I started researching meat’s impact on mood disorders. The results were interesting to say the least, but I also felt my own trial and errors would add a new perspective as well.

One study done in Australia fancied up the phrase “anything more than moderation could ugly.” One opinion blog highlighted and elaborated about almost every single protein source and how your body’s specific composition could benefit from each of them, it made a good hospital read to say the least. Another notable blog entry was one that came from a bipolar patient who hadn’t eaten meat for 34 years. As it was obvious that both of our respective diets were conflicting, I was interested to hear more about a synthetic protein diet and how it helped your brain. She found that her intake of protein that included soymilk, tofu, meat substitutes, and soy cheese doubled with leafy greens, brown rice, beans, etc. helped her live a happy and healthy life.

For the most part, I agreed that those were good substitues but still stick my guns because there are benefits that protein derived directly from an animal can provide that cannot be manufactured. The post itself was an easy read, so as my eyes glided over the words easily until all of a sudden I had a seatbelt burn and whiplash. What could have happened to throw me that dramatically? “In fact, because of their high fat content- as well as the use of antibiotics and chemicals in the raising of poultry and cattle- most of those foods should be eaten in moderation.” There are few key issues I have with that sentence, both structurally and suggestively.

  • The article was a fairly bias read with little sprinkles of her own choices here and there. So the need to throw the industry that provides my rent money and that I love being apart of under the bus, ticked me off a bit.
  • Clearly, the simplicity to say, “Anything more than moderation is bad.” was overlooked.
  • If any meat animals are treated with hormones, antibiotics, or chemicals, the amount given to the animal is so minuscule. Let’s use beef as an example, to increase a teenage boy’s estradiol by only 1%, he would have to eat 16 lb. of beef per day, everyday.
  • Regarding fat content- different choices regarding the desired amount of fat are provided to the consumers so personal preference will win in the end, like it’s intended to. Not to mention the ability to hand remove the fat, but obviously that is just way too much work.

With all of that being said, I can say that I feel like red meat has a huge impact on my stability and my overall health in general. I have been blessed with the metabolism to understand that eating in “excess” meant eating until I was content. When I had health issues earlier this year and I dropped 30 pounds, I was worried. Then when I dropped 14 pounds in two weeks, I was even more concerned. Bottom line, stress takes a HUGE toll on my body and eliminating those factors was step one. I can speak for myself, again, when I say that when I eat a steak, I understand every single myofilaments nutritional value and I really understand the importance. Bipolar is so unique to each individual, and to be honest I think the make up of the diet is as well. Our bodies all act and react differently, like our minds, so diet that works for one, may not work for the other. However, new main point of this article is your mental health status doesn’t matter, you need agriculture.



6 comments on “Mental Health Aspects to Eating Meat

  1. Jamie R. says:

    You are so brave to post about this. What an interesting read to learn about this. Thanks for sharing!

    • Shelby Bodine says:

      Thank you! I had just watched the movie We Bought A Zoo, and so this quote was what really kept be from taking the incredibly easy route and back out.

      “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
      -Matt Damon, in We Bought a Zoo

      Thanks for reading!

  2. As a bipolar (type I rapid cycling) individual, thank you for writing this post. Too often these things are swept under the rug, being ignored as legitimate influencers of food choice and lifestyle. This is extremely well-written and hits on SEVERAL key points in the food and mental health relationship. Obviously, it can go MUCH deeper than this…different disorders are impacted differently and can come with side-effects that also impact food and lifestyle choices. But, you touched on a very important subject that needs to be addressed, and just isn’t.

    If you ever need to talk, you know how to find me. 🙂 best wishes, and thanks for this brave and candid post.

    • Shelby Bodine says:

      Thank you! That was my first leap of bravery and the main focus behind it was to have it hit home with at least one individual. In daily life, let alone the life of agriculturalists, it’s kind of a topic that just isn’t talked about. I find that is so because people are scared of it and don’t always know how to handle it, which is fine. What isn’t fine, are the million or so of us that have to coincide with it and feel like we have to be silenced. Being bipolar as well as being a bipolar means that I tend to find comfort in others who have shared the same sort of trials and errors. Other’s fear of the unknown is what really sets me on edge and is when I can start to feel myself act as “normal” as humanely possible. We aren’t crazy, the stereotype of bipolar is what is crazy. Even if it is just this blog post, I want my courage to shine the lights for other’s who are on the fence about exposing every centimeter of their matter in front of an audience of their harshest critics. Fear is what has always close my eyes and count backwards from 100, but when the sheer desire to give others a brave hand to hold while they surpass their own fears, you’ll find a strength that will challenge all other strength you’ve felt before.

  3. bwbears says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  4. Wow, just wow! As someone who has dealt with the same issues as yourself, in an agriculture community that as you said, just doesn’t talk about these things, I am so glad I found your blog. This post is a huge courageous effort and very well written! Thank you for your sincerity, your agvocating, and honesty!

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