How the Paleo Diet Changed my Life

We are all familiar with the feelings experienced the night before the first day of school. That next morning is most likely the only morning you will actually wake up early instead of hitting the snooze button multiple times. The night before my senior year of high school, something particularly strange happened, which led to a serious lifestyle change. I started breaking out on my face, specifically my cheeks, which had never happened before. I was extremely annoyed, but then began to wonder if this new symptom could possibly be linked to other health issues I was experiencing.

In the previous months, I had experienced a struggle with weight gain, mood swings, digestion problems, immune deficiencies, and lethargy. These symptoms finally lead me to consult a holistic doctor after numerous other tests. My doctor concluded with the utmost confidence that I was a full-fledged gluten, diary, and soy intolerant. (That’s a mouth full, right?) I felt relieved and a little intimidated. “What the heck is gluten,” I replied. Of course, I had heard of it but didn’t actually understand its makeup or role in my health and wellbeing, or lack thereof. This protein, most commonly found in wheat products, allows dough to have a goopy consistency. For example, some salad dressings contain gluten to add thickness.

So here I was in the health food section of the grocery store, which was already pretty familiar to me, looking for new snacks to avoid the dreaded gluten, dairy, and soy. I’ll be honest, gluten-free bread will never taste the same as that nice steamy, crusty hunk of Italian bread, but my discovery of the Paleo Diet has eased my concerns about finding a balance between quality and wholesomeness.

I first learned about the Paleo Diet when a local restaurant was set to open in Avon-by-the-Sea called Cavé, a Paleo Eatery. I was completely captivated by the name. It’s not very often you can associate your diet with that of a caveman. I did some research and discovered that the Paleo (as in Paleolithic) Diet consists of a regiment free of gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, grain, and legumes. At first glance, this may sound unattractive and torturous, but because the Paleo Diet is based on the lifestyle of our earliest hunter-gatherer ancestors, it only calls for the best products our planet provides: meats, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits (not to mention real maple syrup, cacao, and all things coconut). A typical menu can include pumpkin pancakes (made with maple syrup, egg, puree pumpkin, and coconut oil), zucchini spaghetti with meat sauce, and maple bacon brownies (using coconut flour).

Sound like a celebrity fad diet to you? Perhaps. I mean, it is rumored Bradley Cooper took on the Paleo Diet as preparation for his role in the recent blockbuster American Sniper. I cannot deny, however, that this diet is more than a diet. It is the most fulfilling and innovative way to feel your best long-term. After a week of the Paleo Diet, I had renewed energy and reduced bloating. After a month of being on the Paleo Diet, all of my previous ailments seemed to be significantly decreased.

This is the most convenient way to build muscle and be fully satisfied by the most nutrient-rich foods. By consuming a diet free of processed carbohydrates and white/artificial sugar, you can truly take a “health from the inside out” approach and watch your condition improve radically. According to Dr. Loren Cordain, founder of the The Paleo Movement, taking the molecular approach to food doesn’t have to be complicated, but can be creative and rewarding. Though retrogressive, the Paleo Diet is the epitome of advancement and acceleration within the health field. Creating a labor of love and an appreciation for wholesome food combined with simplicity to generate a truly modern back-to-basics lifestyle.

I was able to accelerate my life by drastically changing my diet, leading to more energy, focus and overall improved health. But, altering your lifestyle isn’t the only thing that can accelerate change. TEDxNavesink 2015 is all about accelerators—catalysts, innovators, anything that promotes change. What has been an accelerator in your life?

Tickets are on sale for TEDxNavesink 2015 now! But hurry, they’re going fast! Get them here.

Tedi PascarellaTedi Pascarella is a content production intern on the TEDxNavesink team and a student at Monmouth University.