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Old 09-06-2011, 04:00 PM   #1
Jessica E Murphy
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paleo to MREs?

I am going to be heading off to army Basic in November and am wondering if anyone has any advice/insight pertaining to how my diet is going to change. Right now I am doing paleo and taking fish oil. I'm concerned that once I leave, my body is going to adversely react to going back to eating crappy food. Not to necessarily say that chow hall food/MRE's are crappy (I don't know yet!), but I'll be having dairy and grains and I'm not going to have access to grass-fed meats, organic veggies and fruits, etc. Has anyone been in this situation, and how did you prepare for the big switch? Or does anyone have any advice? My coach at my box said I should maybe try going back to eating like I used to a few weeks beforehand to prep my body...but I really don't want to unless, I suppose, it is the only way.
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Old 09-06-2011, 04:33 PM   #2
James A Wade
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Re: paleo to MREs?

Ok first off I am in the army so I hope this helps. This is a sad fact but the food at basic is not great. You will get three meals a day and breakfast usually has eggs bacon, French toast and cereal. Usually at lunch and dinner you get a couple choices. Fast order( burgers etc). But they usually have some form of chicken. Just peel the skin off of it. But my experience in basic is I couldn't eat enough. I ate all kinds of bad food and was always hungry. They keep you so busy you have to constantly eat. I lost 3 inches in my waist and 10 lbs at basic eating that stuff.
No mres are different. Each mre contains enough calories for a days worth of food. Once you learn the different types you can pick through and eat what you want. There are usually apples, bananas and oranges at your meals. I know it's not much to go on but I hope it helps.
If youhave been eating paleo for a while you might want to listen to your coach or at least slowly add some stuff back into your diet. The first two weeks at basic My stomach was real upset do to the change in food.
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Old 09-06-2011, 04:44 PM   #3
Rob Samuels
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Re: paleo to MREs?

I'm a betting man so I'm going to go out on a limb here and bet you will notice 0 "side effects" from a mere 8 weeks of chow hall food. You wont be consuming very many MRE's so I wont even add that into the equation. Truth be told you can live on wonderbread and twinkies for 8 weeks so the chow hall food is not going to be an issue. Often times a small salad bar is available and you can make "some" choices. That said, as was already pointed out, you will not be consuming enough calories to keep up with your activity level I can almost promise you that. Weekends you can pig out on anything and everything so feel free to do so. Also don't sweat the small stuff its 8 weeks out of the rest of your life a mere zit on the a$$ of life so worry about the things you need to worry about such as paying attention and graduating not if your burger patty is grassfed.
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Old 09-06-2011, 04:48 PM   #4
Andrew Nagel
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Re: paleo to MREs?

Another Army guy here. First off I agree with James. The Army doesn't necessarily have BAD food, but it's cheap and NOT paleo friendly AT ALL. Your goal is going to be to say yes to chicken, veggies, and salad and NO to short order, milk, rice, white bread, sports drinks, etc. The problem with that is that it won't leave you with much to eat. The fact that you are at basic will make it even more difficult because you will be hurried through the lines. Drill Sergeants and salty old toothless civilians will be grimacing and sneering if you take more than 8 nano seconds to tell them what you want. Be prepared to make some sacrifices. My advice (I'm NOT a nutritionist) is to eat yogurt, veggies, and the leanest meat and fish. And drink WATER. You'll fall into a rhythm quickly with your battle buddies and you'll probably be so hungry half the time that you won't care what you eat. It's only 9 weeks. Once you get to AIT the DFAC will be a lot more relaxed, and you'll have a better opportunity to select more Paleo-friendly foods. Good luck brother! Stay motivated!
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Old 09-06-2011, 04:53 PM   #5
Eric Montgomery
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Re: paleo to MREs?

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Originally Posted by James A Wade View Post
Ok first off I am in the army so I hope this helps. This is a sad fact but the food at basic is not great. You will get three meals a day and breakfast usually has eggs bacon, French toast and cereal. Usually at lunch and dinner you get a couple choices. Fast order( burgers etc). But they usually have some form of chicken. Just peel the skin off of it. But my experience in basic is I couldn't eat enough. I ate all kinds of bad food and was always hungry. They keep you so busy you have to constantly eat. I lost 3 inches in my waist and 10 lbs at basic eating that stuff.
No mres are different. Each mre contains enough calories for a days worth of food. Once you learn the different types you can pick through and eat what you want. There are usually apples, bananas and oranges at your meals. I know it's not much to go on but I hope it helps.
If youhave been eating paleo for a while you might want to listen to your coach or at least slowly add some stuff back into your diet. The first two weeks at basic My stomach was real upset do to the change in food.
MREs are only about 1200-1300 calories each so no, they're not enough for an entire day if you're active. During field training we always got 2 or 3 per day.

I agree with your coach and James about gradually reintroducing some processed foods. You don't want day 1 at basic to be the first time you've eaten anything non-Paleo--basic isn't the time to be dealing with digestive, um, "issues." Once you're there you'll essentially need to eat everything you can get your hands on so you can maintain a healthy weight--that means I'd be loading up on meat, eggs, fruits, and then dense carbs like bread and rice. Peanut butter packets were always popular with my recruits, to the point where we'd catch them trying to smuggle a fistful of them out of the chow hall for later in the day.
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Old 09-06-2011, 05:29 PM   #6
James A Wade
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Re: paleo to MREs?

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MREs are only about 1200-1300 calories each so no, they're not enough for an entire day if you're active. During field training we always got 2 or 3 per day.

I agree with your coach and James about gradually reintroducing some processed foods. You don't want day 1 at basic to be the first time you've eaten anything non-Paleo--basic isn't the time to be dealing with digestive, um, "issues." Once you're there you'll essentially need to eat everything you can get your hands on so you can maintain a healthy weight--that means I'd be loading up on meat, eggs, fruits, and then dense carbs like bread and rice. Peanut butter packets were always popular with my recruits, to the point where we'd catch them trying to smuggle a fistful of them out of the chow hall for later in the day.
He is right. Mres do not have quite as many calories as I said. I was trying to remember. Also once you are in the army and out of basic and ait Your choices are your own. So yes it's only eight weeks. I've been in the army almost two years and since ait have only eating probably 5 mres. That was because it's all we had at the time. When your in the field you eat what you can. Best of luck. What's your mos?
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Old 09-06-2011, 05:41 PM   #7
Andrew N. Casey
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Re: paleo to MREs?

if your basic provides a salad bar, short order line, or any kind of options then consider yourself lucky. alot of them they simply give everyone the same thing and you can eat it or not. i highly recommend changing your diet a few weeks before you go. eat three meals a day, at like 7am, noon, and 5pm. don't eat at all after 5. that's how it will be at basic. start drinking nothing but water. if you have any caffeine in your diet cut it out. stop taking any supplements. you don't want to be having hunger pangs, energy crashes, caffeine headaches, etc. you also don't want to be fighting indigestion, heart burn, constipation, diarrhea, etc. these are not things that will help you in your first few weeks of basic. also learn to eat really really fast. you may have a very limited time to eat.

as for the MRE's, they are cheap and easy to buy. get a few and try them. see if they mess you up. they are highly processed and full of preservatives, and they cause many people upset stomach or constipation. depending on your basic, you may hardly ever eat them, or you may eat them more often than you eat in the chow hall.

"hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." this advice will serve you well not only for your food but for most things in the military.
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Old 09-06-2011, 05:57 PM   #8
Rob Samuels
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Re: paleo to MREs?

You dont eat that many MRE's to even be concerned about but even if you did you dont have a choice so "trying them out" serves no purpose, you either eat them or you starve. I remember when I went into the military what kind of food they served never even entered my mind and it shouldn't be on your mind either. If you are concerned about food quality then the military is not the right career choice. Trust me, you will be happy with anything they put on your plate.
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Old 09-06-2011, 06:14 PM   #9
Andrew N. Casey
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Re: paleo to MREs?

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Originally Posted by Rob Samuels View Post
You dont eat that many MRE's to even be concerned about but even if you did you dont have a choice so "trying them out" serves no purpose, you either eat them or you starve. I remember when I went into the military what kind of food they served never even entered my mind and it shouldn't be on your mind either. If you are concerned about food quality then the military is not the right career choice. Trust me, you will be happy with anything they put on your plate.
well apparently everyone's experience is different b/c i ate ALOT of MRE's. probably 50/50 with MRE and chow hall.

i also understand what you are saying about trying them out, but my idea was that if you could try some different ones and find the ones you like vs the ones you don't, or even the parts that you like, then i think i could serve a purpose and be beneficial. especially when you first get there people won't have a clue and you can trade with others. also, the stuff lots of people want the most is the junk. if you get candy or other stuff that taste good, you can easily trade it for something of much better quality. so i think knowing what you want to try for in advance would be beneficial. now if your experience is that you don't eat enough of them to matter, then maybe it wouldn't be worth it.
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Old 09-06-2011, 06:27 PM   #10
Rob Samuels
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Re: paleo to MREs?

In basic you ate a lot of mre's? Army basic? You typically only eat MRE's when you are in the field and thats only a couple a days and maybe a few here and there when you are out training and wont make it back to the chow hall for lunch.

Now once you get past basic and go to AIT depending on your MOS you may eat a LOT of MRE's but in basic its not that many comparitively. 50/50 would be around 84 MRE's and I can say without a doubt I did not consume that many MRE's my whole 3.5 years in the Army. Thats figuring 8 weeks of basic but I think they do 9 or 10 now.

Maybe I just had it easy.

Last edited by Rob Samuels; 09-06-2011 at 06:30 PM..
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