Scott Cheltham had never had any interest in hunting in his whole life, so when he started planning for a hunting trip and even bought a rifle, his wife Mary at first thought he was covering for an affair.
"We were high school sweethearts," Mary said, "so I know him well, he's never shown any interest in hunting or fishing, I thought it was an elaborate ploy to hide something."
The truth was innocent enough, if not strange: Scott had been on the paleo diet for 3 months when, as he told us, "I started to have the urge to buy Hunt & Fish magazine and stuff like that." Soon after that he began thinking seriously about bagging a trophy buck. Like so many others who are strict paleo diet adherents, Scott was experiencing symptoms of paleo-regressive behavior.
Psychologist Wanda Stone and her team of researchers at Michigan State University released a landmark study on people following the paleo diet. Stone and her team think that paleo-regressive behavior is actually the natural state for humans and that modern diets have forced a change in our behavior.
Stone told this reporter, "Modern diets high in over processed substances, fats and chemicals place a huge burden on the human body, and so we've developed a sedentary lifestyle to deal with digesting all the bad stuff. People who are suddenly unencumbered by the modern diet start to unblock all that energy and it can manifest in different ways for different people."
Stone's study shows that 30% of paleo dieters will have some sort of behavioral changes if they stay on the diet for at least six months. Most all of the subjects said the changes were for the better: increased physical and mental energy along with an increased function for planning and organizing, as well as better digestion and weight loss.
On the flip side, others on the paleo diet have had problems akin to obsessive compulsive disorders, and some have even committed criminal acts: One man started rearranging all the produce at his local grocery store and wouldn't stop until security intervened; One woman on the diet for six months, a police officer, admitted to researchers that she had taken over the limit several times while fishing--she was worried about the effect it would have on her job if she were ever caught by Game and Fish.
The subjects who's behavior changed the least on the paleo diet were already following a relatively healthy diet and/or had high levels of physical activity. It shouldn't be surprising Stone says, "that the people who hunt and fish or otherwise exercise a lot, show some of the least change in behavior, they are already taking care of the excess paleo energy that's left over from our modern day sedentary lifestyles. Look, we exercise, workout, or recreate all the time, and we don't call it a paleo workout. But that's exactly what is is, a throwback to our hunter gatherer days--someday the paleo diet will just be called food."