Vegetarian Food and Mood

We all know we are what we eat…we also feel what we eat.  A recent study in Nutrition Journal found that vegetarians report lower levels of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.  They reported overall superior mood levels than meat eaters.  Author Dr. Mary noted this can be attributed to vegetarians consuming more omega-3 fats in their vegetables than meat eaters obtain from an occasional fish dinner.  Besides elevated mood, a vegetarian diet is often associated with other physical health benefits including reduced risk of heart attacks, lower blood pressure, reduced risk of diabetes and cancer, improved digestion, longer life span, and healthier skin.

People choose to eliminate meat from their diets for various reasons…physical health, animal rights, weight loss, etc. and everyone’s adjustment is different.  Mine was a natural process and not difficult…I don’t miss meat and do not remember liking meat as a child.  My vegetarian journey began gradually… I ordered lobster as an adolescent and was horrified and repulsed seeing the entire lobster (eyeballs, antennas, claws, and mouth inclusive) on my plate.  From then on, I became more comfortable choosing to eat what I liked…vegetables, fruit, pasta, legumes, etc…and enjoying animals alive.  I am considered a lacto-ovo vegetarian because I continue to eat some dairy and egg products (I admit I have a sweet tooth and choose to not only eat vegan desserts).  However, I am aware that when I eat a completely vegan diet (free from any animal products), I feel even healthier.  Other types of non-meat diets include pescetarians (avoid meat other than seafood), flexitarians (mostly vegetarian but occasionally eat meat), and raw vegans/raw food diet (unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit).

Since I have been vegetarian nearly fifteen years, I can not accurately recall how I felt when I ate meat.   I do feel happy overall and believe my mood and health can be attributed to my lifestyle, including vegetarian diet, exercise, support of family and friends, career, and spiritual connection.  In response to the common question of how I stay slim, I always reply that I’m vegetarian.  Exercise is just as important of course, and I strongly feel that my vegetarian diet contributes to my motivation, energy, and desire to exercise.

Have you considered a vegetarian diet before?  Perhaps you could test it out for a trial period, do a pre and post-test of your mood, keep a journal of your mood and activity level, and let us know what results you find!

Dr. Mary.  January 26, 2011. Food and Mood.  Retrieved February 20, 2011 from

Seven Common Vegetarian Benefits. 2006. Retrieved February 20, 2011 from



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About Kimberly Rodgers, LCSW, RPT-S

Kimberly is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Florida and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor through the Association for Play Therapy. She also supervises clinical social work interns pursuing licensure. She has worked as a psychotherapist for twelve years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Georgia and Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida.

Her experience includes foster care, adoption, youth shelter, youth related research, school-based counseling, and sexual assault crisis center settings prior to private practice. She specializes in counseling children, families, and adults struggling with stress, anxiety, trauma, and adjustment to life transitions. Kimberly is a current Board member of the Mental Health Association of Southwest Florida and former Vice-President of the Southwest Florida chapter of the Association for Play Therapy. She is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers and EMDR International Association.

Kimberly is founder of Monarch Wellness (originally Monarch Therapy), an integrative center focused on empowering individuals and families through emotional and behavioral metamorphosis. In addition to counseling and play therapy, the center offers other supportive modalities to further enhance emotional healing and stress management including support groups, yoga, laughter yoga, breathwork, integrative relaxation, and sound therapy. Monarch Wellness' sister site offers health related information and inspiration for everyday families to live healthier every day. The center is also involved with House of Gaia community center and other community and service focused organizations. More information about Kimberly and her practice can be found online:

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