How I Changed to the Paleo Diet and Said Goodbye to Depression
For decades I always believed that cavemen had the best diet, as refined carbohydrates were not present then, and therefore cavemen were able to eat a lot more healthily and as nature intended. (1)
I had no idea that anybody else agreed with my belief, let alone that there was actually a name for such a diet, what with being brought up in a Nigerian household in South London with traditional foods such as rice being part of the staple diet. My dear mother would often take offense when I would decline her jollof rice or pounded yam in favor of a steak and salad by retorting that ‘if this caveman diet was any good, why did they all die out?’
So it was amazing to find out some years later whilst studying to be a personal trainer that such a diet actually existed today.
The paleolithic – or paleo – diet consists of all that you can imagine cavemen ate when they were running around all day and catching dinosaurs to eat. (Which coincidently must have been a workout in itself. Those guys must have been totally ripped!)
We’re talking nuts, berries, fruit, vegetables, fish and of course, meat. Nature’s food with nothing added, processed or refined. (2)
Why anyone would think that tampering with this healthy diet by adding refined carbohydrates would be a good idea is truly beyond me.
It is now widely acknowledged that those who consume high levels of carbohydrates within their diets are more likely to suffer from high cholesterol and sugar levels, as well as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. All problematic symptoms that did not exist prior to mankind’s introduction to – and unfortunate interest in – refined carbohydrates. (3)
Realise that refined carbohydrates have not been around for that long in the bigger perspective of how long mankind has been on this earth. The increase in the intake of carbohydrates has only really happened since the introduction of agriculture and even more recently, it’s only been within the past century that refined carbohydrates have become more and more prevalent within the western world’s diet. This correlates highly with the increase in the modern diseases previously mentioned that today can no longer be ignored. (4) (5)
After consumption carbohydrates convert into glucose to be used as an energy source that, if not burnt off through activity, will then turn into fat. (6)
Extra fat that is really not needed.
Thus, it makes sense to avoid carbohydrates especially if you are not that active. (Carbohydrates are naturally found in most food sources such as vegetables so when I say avoid, I mean that one should avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta,etc.)
There is no disputing that the paleo diet definitely works if one wishes to lose weight, which would in itself indicate that consuming too much refined carbohydrates can not be a good thing if it makes one unnecessarily overweight.
However, my advocating of the paleo lifestyle (as that is what it is: a lifestyle change) goes a lot further than just praising it for its amazing weight loss benefits. The paleo diet has been noted to also have psychological benefits.
About fifteen years ago I was given a recipe for making the most delicious red pea soup in the entire world. (Red pea soup is a West Indian dish consisting of – amongst other ingredients – red meat, kidney beans and cream coconut.)
It was so delicious that for the next few weeks, I would literally cook and eat nothing else. However, this soup consists of a lot of ‘hard food’ (starchy carbohydrates such as yam, dumplings and potatoes) and so, within a short while of consuming this meal, I began feeling lethargic, my face had bloated and I became emotionally low and melancholic.
By chance, I happened to come across an article in a magazine where a lady, almost suicidal with depression had been advised by her doctor to stop eating carbohydrates. She did and straight away all of her symptoms – that were more or less the same as mine – stopped. (7)(8)(9)
I took note of this and omitted all of the ‘hard food’ from the ingredients when I cooked the soup again some days later.
Immediately I noticed a difference.
My energy returned, my face stopped looking like the elephant man and most importantly, I stopped feeling low. As I became more in tune with my body and how my diet had such a huge effect on how I felt and looked, I slowly reduced my carb intake from my entire diet over the following months and saw even more improvement. I was more alert, attentive and positive… and almost two stones lighter!
The fact that all this arose around the same time that the Atkins diet was becoming more prevalent was an added bonus in that I had now also found a way to look hot as well as feel great!
I could eat more and not put on weight. Instead of steak and chips, I could actually eat the entire cow… with a side order of salad. (Obviously this isn’t the case, but you get my drift. With the paleo diet, you can indeed eat more protein enriched food without the worry that your body will convert any stored food into too much fat.)
I’m not saying go crazy here and totally stop eating carbohydrates or omit anything white from your plate. I’m a firm believer in moderation. However, when it comes to looking good and feeling better, I am all for it. A healthy diet is a sensible diet, especially when the subsequence is a more positive outlook on life.
I have found this through implementing the ‘caveman’ diet. This has been my method of choice and without even realising it had been my method of choice for years.