By Lakita Chikandi
In today's fast-paced world, the prevalence of depression and mental health struggles has become a pressing concern for a lot of people. We constantly seek ways to improve our well-being and find solace amidst the chaos. In this article, I will share my journey of transitioning from a state of depression to embracing a plant-based lifestyle. This transformative experience not only positively impacted my physical health but also played a significant role in improving my mental well-being.
In 2019, I was a second-year student who had no clue what I was doing at university. I was studying a course that was chosen for me by my parents because I had no option. It was either I became a nurse, teacher, doctor or police officer according to my father. My mom, on the other hand, decided to make it easier for me and told me to study physiotherapy. So I did it without question because I always trusted my mom to know better.
Lakita, Second year
I was lost, exhausted, uninspired and had no idea what I was doing. My grades were getting worse by the semester and the university registration system stressed me out every semester. My results got lost and at this, point, I had no fighting spirit to follow lecturers around to look for results I barely cared about. So I kept going but deep down I was gone. My body, mind and heart were out of alignment. When around my peers I seemed to be okay and to those who knew me I was the hype girl. Always cheerful and ready to groove. At the time I did not know that I was dealing with depression. So, as a habit of students in university, I got into the drinking and partying lifestyle as a means of distracting myself from the mental crisis I was going through.
The drinking and partying days
So, during my third year in university, we had to do hands-on work in clinics as part of our studies. While I was doing that, I met so many patients dealing with different issues, but the most common ones were diabetes and stroke. Watching these people go through a tough time hit me hard and it was emotionally draining. Eventually, I reached a point where staying in school just didn't feel right anymore, so I decided to drop out.
That's when I turned my attention to my family and noticed that some have been through these health challenges, and others are still facing them. It got me thinking, and I started doing some research. What I found out is that what you eat and how you live can greatly impact your health. As I delved into it, I focused on diet, and it became clear that many health issues people face are tied to their eating habits. And get this – even depression can be influenced by the type of food we put into our bodies.
Depression is an invisible battle that can consume one's life, leaving them feeling hopeless and disconnected from the world around them. I too, found myself trapped in this dark abyss, struggling to find purpose and joy in my everyday life. It was during this time that I stumbled upon a book called The Kemetic Diet by Dr. Muata Ashby. This book took me deep into the dynamics of food and how the ancient Egyptians ate, it gave me a different and deeper perspective on how I looked at food.
Recognising the need for change, I embarked on a journey towards a plant-based lifestyle. The decision to adopt a plant-based diet was not an impulsive one, but rather a well-researched and informed choice. I educated myself about the numerous health benefits associated with plant-based eating, such as increased energy levels, improved digestion, and reduced risk of chronic diseases.
Nourishing the Body, Nourishing the Mind
As I transitioned from a diet filled with processed and unhealthy foods to one rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, I noticed a significant change in my physical health. The abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in plant-based foods provided my body with the necessary nutrients to thrive. This newfound vitality translated into increased energy levels, improved sleep quality, and enhanced physical performance.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Apart from the evident physical benefits, adopting a plant-based lifestyle had a profound impact on my mental health. Emerging research has highlighted the intricate connection between the gut and the brain, suggesting that a healthy gut microbiome positively influences mood and mental well-being. By consuming a plant-based diet, rich in fibre and prebiotics, I was able to nurture my gut microbiota, leading to improved mental clarity, reduced anxiety, and enhanced overall mood. My journey from being depressed to plant-based diet has been totally worth it.
In addition to the personal health benefits, embracing a plant-based lifestyle also allowed me to align my values with my dietary choices. The meat and dairy industries have been associated with various ethical concerns, including animal cruelty and environmental degradation. By adopting a plant-based diet, I became an advocate for animal welfare and sustainable living, which further contributed to my sense of purpose and well-being.
Life as a Plant-based vegan
In conclusion, transitioning from a state of depression to embracing a plant-based lifestyle has been a transformative journey for me. By nourishing my body with wholesome plant-based foods, I not only experienced improved physical health but also witnessed a remarkable improvement in my mental well-being. The decision to adopt a plant-based diet allowed me to regain control over my life, find purpose in my choices, and connect with a community of like-minded individuals. If you find yourself struggling with depression or seeking ways to improve your overall well-being, I encourage you to explore the potential benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. Remember, small changes can lead to significant transformations in our lives.
Lakita is a wellness coach and the founder of Lakita’s Treasure a wellness brand that provides products and services that assist individuals on their wellness journey to good health and wealth. She helps individuals easily curate healthy lifestyle changes through one one-on-one coaching, movement therapy and emotional support. Connect with her on @lakita’s treasure (instagram business page) and for her personal page @lakita_official.
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Edited by Bwalya M Mphuka
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