Let's say for some reason the economy collapses or money gets super tight so you decide to eat the cheapest foods out there...(rice, beans, bread, oats, etc. - no more bacon, salmon, omega 3's/supplements, and so on.)
Would your body adjust to eating grains/inflammatory foods? Or do you think it would wreck havoc on your system?
I would argue that my body was never really adjusted to the SAD, I just didn't realize it. To me, that's one of the points behind low carb and paleo/primal.
Before I switched my diet, I always limited the candies we purchased, for budgetary reasons. But I was eating a lot of beans and processed grains. In my mind, the "poor man's diet" you describe is as much to blame for my weight problems as the "treats" that we ate.
So definitely "wreak havoc." On the other hand, if that diet was truly necessary for survival, I think there might be ways to mitigate the damage: cook with more animal fats, for example.
Of course, that might not be an option if society collapsed. If it was just money, though, I'd put up with the BHA in cheap lard!
Rice and beans isn't exactly SAD. It may not be paleo but it is a traditional diet. And it may not be bacon and salmon, but bits of meat would still typically be available. The worst parts of SAD are neither cheap nor necessary.
I think the body always will adjust. Whether or not it will "wreak havoc" depends in part on things like whether one has specific grain-related issues (like celiac).
For me in particular, there's a difference between eating SAD and eating grains. Given that cultures have been existing for generations on properly prepared grains (soaked, sprouted, fermented etc) I don't think that eating grains per se would necessarily be the end of the world in case it's the end of the world.
But it's very clear that SAD as consumed by most folks is not a healthful diet. It's not just the grains though, it's also the ridiculous amount of sugar, the heavy-duty veggie oils and the lack of nutrients like the fat-soluble vitamins and omega 3.
I have done the switch back to the SAD way of life. It was relatively seamless because the quality of the "SAD" foods was higher than it was before. Paleo taught me quite a bit about diet. Before my first wack at Paleo my diet was anything but great. HFCS, soda, pizza, hamburgers, Subway, etc... I was never overweight but suffered sinus infections and allergies. I did paleo for a long stint but I started to get really sucked into the endurance world. Instead of taking the time to really hack my diet and make paleo work for endurance, I started including grains and tubers (never bread really, but I also didn't discount it either). Then b/c I was running so much I went vegetarian. Poor man protein sat a lot easier on the stomach than real protein which meant I could hit the road soon after a meal to get the mileage in that day. I never suffered any real noticeable damage while back on the "SAD" wagon, But I attribute that to the fact that I eliminated all the super processed bullcrap. But the lower protein meant that I sacrificed a lot of muscle mass. I was never injured, but if you put me in a TV show, "Are you Stronger than a 5th Grader?," I definitely would have lost. I could barely do 10 pushups.
Since coming back off the SAD wagon and hopping back onto The Paleo Train, I've gone up from 169lbs to 185lbs and my bench press (through very little work) went from 160lbs to 215lbs (Jan-March). And that weight gain hasn't been fat gain. My waist circumference has stayed the same. I don't think that I had a huge inflammatory response to my SAD food choices when I went back. But I attribute that to keeping inflammatory foods relatively low, constant exposure to Vit. D, and supplementing heavily with Omega 3's. That being said, I'll never jump back on the SAD wagon b/c I have a far better understand of Paleo than I did the first go around.
I think the thing for me that would help guide my choices would be my hunger cues. I could never go back to being ravenously hungry every 2 hours. I would do my best to control blood sugar levels, but how would you do that on beans and rice?! I definitely would be smarter about preparing that stuff.
I'd like to think I'd go the hunter-gatherer route too: fish, lizards, frogs, squirrels, deer (they're basically domesticated around here), raccoon, snails, birds, maybe insects? I'm about to take a wild edibles class, and I'm excited to learn what's out my front door.
I had a "SAD" experience just this week. I wanted to have a tiny splurge, and thought hey, go down to the local health food store and get one of their gluten-free brownies (they're also vegan, but that wasn't my main goal). Well, I felt super-duper crappy following that, for several hours. Don't know if it was the chocolate, the non-gluten grains used, or something else in it, but it did not treat me well. It was especially surprising considering my diet pre-paleo consisted almost entirely of vegan pseudo-foods :) I've been mostly paleo for 5+ years, with deviations now and then; however for the past 10 months I'd been 100% paleo before this "treat".
Won't be going off the "diet" again.
I've finally healed enough that one splurge every month or two doesn't have any apparent consequences but I think it would take less than a month to get back into health trouble if I went back to eating wheat. I also think I'd be pre-diabetic and possibly hypertensive.
If the economy collapsed, though, I'd still be fasting because I agree with Karen P--I don't ever want to return to eating my way around the clock. So I guess it's possible the fasting would help neutralize the degraded diet and allow me to make the best quality food choices over quantity. I hope I never have to find out!
I would be in BIG trouble should I say, have to dig into my emergency supply kit (bought before Paleo but good for another 20 years). I would probably spend at least week in the bathroom. I would then be a useless wreck from joint pain and gut inflammation. I think I would start fishing and hunting and foraging. Hell, even watercress from the local creek has got to be better than a loaf of bread.
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