This question is directed more for the white folks on this forum.
have you ever tried an anglo-saxon somewhere around the dark ages type of diet? There are a few reasons why I think it may be beneficial for me(my main problem is skin health.)
Firstly, I believe there is merit to ancestral eating. The foods in the Anglo-dark-age diet would fall in line with my personal food cravings
Secondly, this would be about as far as I could go back in terms of a traditional "anglo-saxon diet" even here the records are a little sketchy for some odd reason, but we have a general gist of the diet.
and thirdly i think that a lot of our deep rooted psychology came from around this period, more so than paleo times. This is just speculation and I won't dive much into it because it's not the point of my question.
So the diet, for my particular Saxon heritage would be heavy on oats, honey, rye and particularly BARLEY. Minimal animal foods mostly in the form of seafood and eggs(I'm not doing the Lord's diet here). Dairy, vegetables mainly leak. and the list of fruits apples, pears, plums, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and grapes
Do you guys think this diet is worth embarking on? I felt hypocaloric on paleo personally.
People in the dark ages were not exactly the picture of health.
I vaguely remember a show about teeth that looked into the diet habits from the Dark Ages until the Renaissance period and they were looking at bone density and teeth (in fact, it may have been the BBC show "Big Bang" (not to be confused with the US Sitcom).
Apparently, even though the folks from the dark ages had considerably less nutrition, they had surprisingly healthier teeth and bones.
On the flip side, post 1500 Europe the people all of a sudden (amongst all classes) started to develop serious cavities, reduced bone density, etc...
What food was introduced to Europe around that time? [Churchlady Voice] Could it be... Sugar? [/Churchlady Voice]
So I can't really tell you what you should eat, but I can tell you, from a Anglo-European point of view, that sugar wasn't really on the menu until the renaissance, nor were potatoes, chilies, or tomatoes.
Cultures changed over time depending on who was invading that week. Dig sites of Southern Pictish show lots of small critter bones and mostly land animals, Northern Picts ate seal, and larger land critters, with easily harvested shellfish. The Romans brought barley and wheat, as well as most modern veggies that are staples today. After the Saxons came (about 1,000 years ago), considerably more fish/shellfish was consumed (possibly due to improved fishing technology). Beech and Walnuts were harvested and eaten in some considerable amounts according to some prehistory dig refuse piles (along with small bones). Of course there is the oft-quoted Benjamin Disraeli who mentioned that the Scots ate horse food (oats), so at least by the Victorian era, Oats weren't really considered a food unless you lived north of York.
Approaching Ancestral dieting in prehistory Britain I would look to land critters, copious bitter greens, European nuts (Walnuts, Chestnuts - even almonds if you consider Roman influence), seafood (especially shellfish and freshwater), and rhizome tubers such as ginger, rutabaga, and turnips. I would avoid almost all "new world" foods such as nightshades, meaning no avocado, no chiles, no potatoes, etc...
But then again, that's only if you choose to eat this way. It might be a good base to start from, but there are lots of foods that I consider edible on Paleo that are excluded if you choose to eat this way.
Sounds kind of like a SAD diet except you replaced wheat with other grains and white sugar with other sugars (albeit more natural sugars.)
And no I don't think too many people have attempted an Anglo-Saxon diet. Not on purpose anyway. I can see a lot of issues arising from this diet, especially since it's mostly carbohydrates and lacking in both protein and fat. Pasteurized dairy is a frankenfood and for someone concerned with their health, processed dairy shouldn't even be on their menu.
Sounds a bit like the Spartan Diet http://thespartandiet.blogspot.com/
But I would imagine there would be a bit of diversity with diet in this era between classes. I'm mainly familiar with Scandinavia in this era, but there the different classes ate quite differently. The peasants had terrible bones and teeth. They ate mainly rye and turnips and were often forbidden by local nobility from hunting. The upper classes had a more animal-rich diet, but animal products during this era were restricted not just by scarcity, but by church fasting rules, which prohibited all animal products except some fish and shellfish during fast periods that took up as much as half the year. At one point I was involved in a type of Christianity that still does these fasts and I did not do well on them at all. My body doesn't handle lots of fiber very well and low-fat seems to trigger depression for me. But my ancestors were supposedly nobility, so maybe I need a more noble diet :P
Just so you know - oats NOW and oats THEN are two completely different things, in terms of their cultivation and selection. They changed a lot since Neolythic times. Same goes for barley.
Don't forget to hunt for wild game and deer. Also make sure to eat wild goats and research as much as possible about fauna during those times. Your honey should be raw and from wild bees.
Also, make sure to eat WILD pears and WILD plums, not the cultivated ones.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: OATS USED TO BE GLUTEN FREE, NOW THEY ARE CROSS-CONTAMINATED BY GLUTEN. BARLEY BACK THEN HAD LESS GLUTEN THAN NOW. CAN YOU FIND WILD BARLEY???
If you're going to do this, and do it authentically, you'll also need to account for seasonal availability of foods. Eggs would have been rare during the winter, as would fresh milk products. Fresh fruit would only have been available in-season; during the rest of the year your ancestors would have eaten it dried. And those fruits would not have been like the hybridized ones you find in the supermarket.
Your ancestors' wild strawberries were tiny and not so sweet as modern hybrids. Apples and grapes were small and sour--and used to make cider and wine, not for eating.
Oh, and you'll probably get a lot of your barley ration as beer, because that was how water was rendered fit to drink.
Look, if the diet you've outlined above meets all your personal food cravings, go for it. Give it a try. It's still not going to be what your ancestors ate, but as an n=1? Why not.
But I can't help but look at my own ancestry, which is heavily Northern European. And while my ancestors may have subsisted on barley, oats, and meager rations of animal fat and protein, my aim is to do far more than merely subsist--I want to thrive. I want to be a healthy, happy human animal until I one day drop dead. And this particular animal wants lots of beef, bison, duck, and venison in the colder moths, lots of fish and green veg in the warmer months, fruit in season, eggs all year round, the occasional root or tuber--and almost no grains. Whatever grains my ancestors ate no longer exist--they've been hybridized and modified into extinction--and the ones that are now available do terrible things to my body.
If you would rather not eat red meat, you don't have to. There's no reason you can't stick to fish, eggs, and small amounts of dairy. Lots of green veg and some fruit? Fine. But keep in mind that the amount of oats and barley your ancestors ate from necessity was not optimal for their health. If they'd had the option of eating more meat and fat, you bet they would have.
Others have made some good points. I wanted to add that fermentation was a primary method of food preservation. The diet would feature sauerkraut and other pickled veg, cured meats and cheeses, clabbered milk, and much of the barley would be fermented into beer. Also prominent would be various wild herbs and greens and root veg such as turnips, rootabagas, salsify and beets but potatoes had not been introduced from South America yet. But the amount of meat one ate in Ye Olden Times would be dependent on one's social status.
It's hard to imagine that eating barley would improve your skin. But eating the diet of more immediate ancestors makes a lot of sense compared to emulating the diet of imaginary ancestors from 50,000 years ago. Adaptation has occurred. I do well on my Scandinavian ancestors white food diet: lots of dairy and fish, minimal vegetables and fruit.
As long as you cut out the modern garbage food then the diet should be okay and worth experimenting with.
You just have to make sure the oats, rye, and barly don’t push out too many other nutrient dense foods (eating eggs every day will help quite a bit.) You might feel better though with a little more protein or fat; you just have to experiment and see what works best for you.