MrsStick

Eating during a military exercise

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Hi, all, I've got a bit of a question/information gathering sort of situation. Here's the deal: I'm in the military, and we have a 3 week exercise in August, during which I will have little control of my meals (read: get MREs and hopefully 2 meals of bad food-service stuff) and will have no refrigeration available. I have Celiac's and generally just feel better eating more cleanly (more primal than paleo, but still primarily veggie/protein/fat/fruit more than not).

 

MREs will have very few items I can eat. Pretty much everything has flour to thicken the sauce, and while there might be a handful of items I can eat (the tuna salad one will at least have a normal pouch of tuna with icky normal mayo and relish), most of it I won't. Which leaves me with my issue: what on earth will I eat?!?!?!??!?

 

I just bought a pack of Epic bars because that will at least give me protein and fruit, but I'm stumped on veggies. As far as I know, there won't be much that I can even buy there (let alone a store that would have carrots instead of Doritos...ugh) and, without being able to bring a lot of stuff (i.e. cooler for my veggies or whatever), I'm appealing for help.

 

Any ideas? Is there any sort of bar (other than Lara/Epic, which I have, preferably compliant) that has veggies in it? Am I just going to have to grin and bear it and miss veggies for 2 meals a day (breakfast choices will not likely include veggies other than hash brown potatoes, and can't eat any veggies in the MREs for lunch)? I'd rather not get constipated and bloated from only having protein/nuts/some fruit to eat 2/3 of the day.

 

Thanks all. :)

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Since you do have a diagnosed condition, are you able to request special meals? Or could you chat up the cooks on your first day and see if they can scratch up some plain vege for you to eat of a morning? Or see if you can get leftovers from dinner to have for breakfast? No idea how picky they are about that kind of thing...

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The overall take the last time I discussed Celiac's with a doctor was "just avoid eating gluten"...the military has vegetarian options and kosher options but no one has heard of a gluten free option. Almost everything in the prepackaged meals is gluten-based...the breakfast versions are cereal, pop tarts, muffins, shelf stable milk, OJ, and a fruit cup; the regular meals are largely based around sides of "wheat snack bread" or crackers with peanut butter/jelly/cheese sauce, candy, cookies, muffin tops, etc. Their basic stance is "eat around what you don't want." I think I might have to come to terms with eating a lot of fruit to compensate for non-veggie options (I'll allow potatoes if they're available at breakfast to help).

 

The seasnax idea was great - I'll see about getting some of those. As for the freeze dried veggies, I'm not sure...wouldn't I have to rehydrate those so I can eat them? If so, that's probably out but a good idea nonetheless.

 

The rules on keeping food over does prevent the cooks from saving anything that's been cooked for the next meal. I might be able to see about just getting a 'to go' plate to save for myself...but again, run into the refrigeration component. Doubt salad would be safe after 12 hours unrefrigerated between two styrofoam plates.

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You can eat freeze dried fruit right out of the can! They may be a food with no breaks for some people but I think they are perfect in you situation. Some freeze dried veggies may have to be rehydrated before you can eat them. You might need to experiment before if you have time. They do have feeze dried sweet potatoes! Check out thrive life food storage http://www.thrivelife.com/all-products/thrive-foods/vegetables.html?p=2. Or honeyville grain http://shop.honeyville.com/products/freeze-dried-food-storage/freeze-dried-fruits.html. I added links but sometimes they don't post. Good luck!

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I have a friend who did a on exercise with the Rangers up North (northern Canada) and brought along greens+. She is training for the Olympics on the side and said if it wasn't for that powder she probably wouldn't have been able to resume training as quickly as she did. It's probably NOT whole30 compliant but better than being stuck with MREs for 3 weeks. Ugh. I only did 3 days and ended caving and eating a lot of the carby stuff. Let us know how you did, I'm very interested to hear!

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So, an update at a week into the exercise. Here's what I brought with me:

 

Epic Bars

RX Bars

Lara Bars

Tuna pouches

 

I'm not trying to make this a W30, so here's what I am eating convenience food-wise from the dining facility that I know I can handle:

 

Pudding cups (way sweet, but the texture is really nice for me for some reason - maybe it feels like fat to my brain? They're not non-fat, so maybe)

Peanut butter pouches

Seaweed packs (not SeaSnax, but living in Korea = prepackaged dried salted seaweed at the dining facility)

Fruit

A bit of chocolate to deal with stress...not ideal, but I haven't even opened them yet. It's nice to just know that it's there just in case.

Fruit cups (again, too sweet, but they don't bruise like the fresh fruit does)

 

So, a week in, and I thought I glutened myself last night (I have Celiac's). I caved, because the foods I can eat here are boring) and had the "loaded mashed potatoes" with dinner...I had a stomachache after eating but they didn't trigger my full-blown Celiac response this morning like flour would have...and I'm really grateful. I was scared last night because I can't exactly leave whenever I want to use the restroom.

 

My normal meals (in case anyone out there finds this later and wants to know how I'm managing to eat) are usually:

 

Breakfast: a scoop of eggs with ketchup to hide the powder flavor/texture, turkey "bacon" or chicken sausage, potatoes if they aren't swimming in sauce, and fruit.

 

Lunch: I alternate between tuna pouches and RX or Epic Bars, Lara Bars (for a mid-afternoon snack on shift), pudding, fruit, seaweed, and peanut butter as desired. I just eat what feels right during the day, trying to be conscious to not have too much non-natural sugars but not trying to freak out too much over it.

 

Dinner: some nights I've had no options (spaghetti with meatballs or fried chicken? Thanks, guys.) other than the salad bar, but usually I can at least get some sort of meat and an overcooked veggie (green beans mostly). Being in Korea, we always have rice cookers, and since I don't usually test any cheesy side (cheesy broccoli rice, potatoes au gratin) I use plain rice as a starch as needed. I go for big salads with a full fat dressing (the ingredients aren't good by any means, but I need a source of obvious fat) every night to make up for the fruit fest at lunch.

 

At this point, on my 7th day, I'm simultaneously SO SICK of everything sweet, but also seeing my cravings for sugars grow. Thankfully, the not wanting sweets is overriding the sugar dragon still...that feeling of sickly sweet is getting annoying. I'm upping my dried salted seaweed intake, as well as peanut butter (which somehow tastes sweet on its own, stupid hidden sugars) to help cut the sickly sweet feeling in my mouth.

 

So I'm surviving, but my husband is having more issues than I am...he doesn't have Celiac's and so is eating all of the cookie packs and Special K Pastry Crisps...by day 4, when he was trying to shift to night shift, he got a horrible cold/something. He had fever chills that whole first day/night, and is finally starting to feel better, though his voice is still mostly gone. When he went off shift sick the first time, he remembered he hadn't been taking any of the supplements we usually take - fermented cod liver oil, a probiotic, and glucosamine - but he's taking them now. I'm not sure if the supplements helped officially, but he took them that same first night and by the time he woke up, he was feeling better (from "I'd rather die than feel this way" to "I'm sick"). Of note is he's also had more pimples in the last week than he has in months.

 

Thanks for listening/reading! Hope this helps someone at some point in the future!

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I think you're making the best of a bad situation :).

 

And when you get home, you need to write a sternly worded letter to the people in charge and tell them to stop feeding people crap and expecting them to perform at their best! I'm sure that would go down marvelously with the armed forces :)

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I know in Canada if it is discovered/diagnosed after enrollment, it will depend on the extent of the illness, and the trade of the person. If you are a desk jockey (i.e. clerk) you may get a pass but find your career will slow down as you are not deployable. If you are a combat arms trade (infantry, etc) you may be released because you cannot be deployed. The military cannot accommodate one odd man out. It sucks.

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Re: Celiac and serving...basically, they said that because I was already in the military, I could stay. By trade I am a pilot, but by actuality I pretty much have been flying a desk for years. It hasn't made me non-deployable either, just means I have to be careful with what I eat.

 

I can get tinned veggies and a lettuce/carrot/cucumber salad at dinner, so I've been eating all of those every night. I'm a bit surprised to find that several of the main entrees in the MREs contain no gluten, but everything in an MRE has the "processed in a facility that processes wheat" label on it. Weight/size was a bit of an issue (I had one duffel bag and one large backpack to bring with me, nothing else).

 

One of my guys is on a trip back to the rear and is hitting the grocery store to bring me goodies. Non-sweet options, hooray! It should get here tonight. :)

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