This Q&A is for all those Paleo people who also happen to be in the armed forces eating foods from the U.S. military’s dining facilities. I tried my best to give some advice to Sarah, who wrote us the email below asking about how she can stay Paleo in Afghanistan, but please comment below if you have any words of wisdom!
Hey Paleo Plan Team!
I was recently a member of your website and absolutely loved your menu plans. You were able to help me steer through the fundamentals of a Paleo lifestyle and I feel all the better for it. I discontinued my membership because I took a position with the U.S. Army and am now deployed to Afghanistan. All my meals are prepared for me in the Dining Facility (DFAC) and I’ve learned quickly that staying Paleo here is near to impossible.
As you can imagine, food here is cooked quickly to feed the largest number of people at once. Lots of fried fish and fatty meats, canned vegetables, saucy sides and starches. The DFACs use this green-light system is designating the “healthy foods”–which are meant to give the warfighter lots of engery and are typically potatoes, rice, noodles, fatty meats and the like. There is a salad bar at lunch and dinner, but the freshness and sanitation of vegetables in Afghanistan can led to serious digestion issues.
I’ve reached out to other Paleo friends for advice and support, but I wanted to see if you had heard from others about this issue in the past. I would really appreciate any insight you may have. I’ve been trying really hard to stay as close to Paleo as possible–but long hours and low energy have led me astray.
Have you heard from others about this? Do you have any suggestions whatsoever for someone who is trying to navigate the fried, processed food found in a mess hall/dining facility?
Thanks again and I look forward to returning to your site as soon as I get home next year! I miss cooking and eating my own food!
Wow, that sounds rough. Usually I tell people living on food that the military dispenses to stick with proteins and veggies as much as humanly possible. But it doesn’t seem like that’s always an option since the proteins are often fried in heinous oils or battered in grains or both. And the veggies from the salad bar seem out of the question in Afghanistan. So here’s a question.
Can you have a bunch of food sent to you? Beef jerky, almond butter, whey or egg white protein powders and other nonperishables like that? Probably expensive and it may not even be legal to send food to Afghanistan (excuse my ignorance)… Or can you find different food somewhere else or talk to the cooks and ask them if there’s any way they could keep a chicken breast out of the deep fryer for you? That seems far fetched…
If none of those options exist, I think in order to get enough calories you may have to just be choosy about what they give you, but eat things you wouldn’t normally eat and hope for the best. Just as you’ve been doing.
I found this thread from the forum at crossfit.com about this very topic. You might find that these people have more valuable advice than I could ever give you, since I’ve never eaten at a DFAC, much less served in the military a day in my life.
I hope that’s helpful at all to you. I wish you all the luck in the world with sorting this out and getting the best nutrition you possibly can. It’s very sad that our armed forces have such crap to eat…
Anyone else have any sage advice for our military personnel?