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My son is in very difficult circumstances for eating Primal - suggestions?

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  • My son is in very difficult circumstances for eating Primal - suggestions?

    Hi, OK, this one is really hard. Please try not to judge but long story short, my son made a mistake, got arrested with personal possession of drugs, and is currently in prison. He is 23. He is actually doing GREAT, got clean, and feels it saved his life. That is the positive. So, I have been writing to him about the Primal lifestyle and since fitness has become his new passion and practically a new addiction, he is very interested. I sent him a copy of the Primal Blueprint for the workouts and I am pretty positive when he does the self-assessment he is already at the top tier or almost the top tier of everything.

    Since becoming incarcerated, he has gained 30 pounds but looks the thinnest I have ever seen him. He is currently 195 at 5'10". He is very lean, and very strong and thin looking. So, he is trying very hard to eat well under extremely challenging circumstances. As you may know, the food in prison is not very nutritious. He is able to complement what they give him with some purchases from the commissary store once a week so that helps.

    He sent me his sample daily diet and asked my opinion from a primal viewpoint. It's carb heavy, and almost unavoidable as he is VERY limited. They get no fresh vegetables or fruit to speak of. He says they get an orange about every other week and canned peaches about every other week. I am sure the peaches are in heavy syrup. He gets canned corn, peas, spinach, and string beans or mixed vegetables occasionally. The protein staple is turkey in many different forms, and beans.

    He says he wakes up at 5 am, eats Mini Wheats he buys in the commissary, and also takes a multi-vitamin, an amino acid, a c-complex, and fish oil (all of which he buys at the commissary)
    Mid-morning he has black instant coffee
    At 11 AM he eats the meal tray they give him which is usually turkey in some form, beans, maybe a vegetable. He does not eat the slice of white bread or the dessert if there is one (a cookie or such) unless it is the orange or peaches.
    At 4 PM he usually only eats the vegetables served on the dinner tray, which he says is usually beans. (when I say beans they are pinto beans cooked with salt and water and served that way, whole with juice)
    After dinner he does his workout which lasts 3 hours and consists of massive amounts of squats, pushups, lifting chairs or other inmates, planks, etc. They do not have equipment so they use their own selves which works out with the primal workout very well. He can do a handstand pushup against the wall but not free standing yet. He does one legged squats, more than anyone else there, so he is pretty fit at this time.
    Then after the workout, he makes a packet of tuna and mixes it with rice, beans, jalapenos, and onions and he takes fish oil again. These are all items from the commissary and I believe the beans and rice are reconstituted somehow like maybe you add hot water to them to make them.

    Well, that is his diet in a nutshell. As you can see, it's not that great with the rice and heavy on beans but under the circumstances I don't think he can improve it a ton. I am going to suggest he try for something besides the mini-wheats for breakfast. It would be really good if he could get a protein source for the morning meal.

    Can anyone suggest any other modifications? Like, would it be better to eliminate the rice and double up on the beans at night? I don't think he can afford much more tuna than the one pack.
    What about his supplements he is taking? I don't know much about amino acids. Are those doing some good for him?

    I am glad he is trying to improve his health and concentrate on the positive. His plan for when he gets out is to embrace outdoor activities like hiking, camping, rafting, etc. and get his thrills from outdoor adventures. I am hopeful he will be successful in putting this episode behind him and come out the better for it in the long run.

    Thanks very much for any input, it's appreciated and I will pass it on to him. Peace ~~

  • #2
    Sorry to hear that. Hope he is not there long.

    Dropping the mini-wheats is a no-brainer.

    Why double up on the beans? Rice is not ideal, but it may be better than beans.


    • #3
      How much longer will he be in there for?
      You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!


      • #4
        His sentence is for four years and he has been there one as of July. He is projected to be released in April of 2014 on parole, assuming that nothing goes wrong in the interim.


        • #5
          You'd think that beans have more nutrition than rice - even with the anti's in them.
          For his circumstance, I think just rotating the foods he's eating would be best. Also, try and stay away from the cereals and breads.


          • #6
            If he's working out that much, he's going to need more protein. For all the trouble that beans might cause him, I think they're still a better choice than rice, given what the rest of his diet looks like. Beans at least have some vitamins and minerals in them.
            You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!


            • #7
              Sorry about your son's imprisonment. I hope it does change his life for the better. He's young enough to undo the damage from crappy food.

              About all I can suggest is trading.
              Ancestral Health Info

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              • #8
                I saw a show on prison weight lifters and somehow they were able to get a lot of tuna fish brought in as a protein source. They also ate large quantities of peanut butter but I think that was just pilfered out of the kitchen.


                • #9
                  Oh yes, i forgot, he CAN buy peanut butter too. He didn't include it in his "sample" day he sent me, but he has mentioned to me that they have it in the commissary. I am going to suggest he try to buy that as additional protein source. So, MORE PROTEIN is going to be the thing, by the sounds of it.


                  • #10
                    I know there is a lot of trading of foods that happens already. I think the problem is, the choices are all kind of crappy. I am flabbergasted that the prison system doesn't give them a FEW fresh vegetables, maybe things that are cheap or in season. Heck, they could have a garden there and make the inmates do the work in it!! Zucchini for everyone!! Before my son started buying multi vitamins, he had really dark circles under his eyes, I think he was really lacking the leafy greens and stuff.


                    • #11
                      That's the wonderful thing about being an omnivore. We can eat such a variety of different things to get what we need - even if they aren't the most ideal for long term.


                      • #12
                        Credentials first - I spent 8 1/2 years in prison in the state of Virginia. So (unfortunately) I have some firsthand experience as to what your son is going through.

                        I knew nothing of primal then and likely would not have tried it if I did know but I am well familiar with the *foods* they serve and the conditions he's enduring.

                        1. Acknowledge that he will not be able to be perfectly (or probably even 80/20) primal. He needs to accept that first if he wants to do this and be *as primal as he can*

                        2. Skip all bread (rolls, buns, sandwich bread, etc) and cereal.

                        3. Accept pasta as the occasional evil as it is often a meat-sauce carrier or IF during those meals.

                        4. Accept rice and beans and potatoes and work out hard those days. Sometimes the vegetarian option will offer beans or cheese in place of the main meal (might be a better choice than spaghetti with *meat* sauce) if that is an option without signing up ahead of time.

                        5. Breakfast is a bitch with claws. It's either going to be all about the eggs and turkey-based-meat-side or all about some form of syrup drenched dough. These breakfasts will normally also include turkey bacon or sausage. Which brings us to #6.

                        6. TRADE. Breakfast is a good example. Most guys will take the pancakes or waffles and syrup for their sausage - or Milk if it's a pancake and cereal day instead of sausage. Deserts can often be traded for veggies (sadly, *veggies* will usually be canned green beans, baked beans, peas, corn, or mixed veggies).

                        7. AVOID THE COMMISSARY unless they sell canned fish (jack mackerel, tuna) or other primal friendly options like Summer Sausages. (ETA) Most prison commissaries do sell peanut butter and even packs of planters peanuts.

                        8. Walk the yard (move slowly/get plenty of sun)

                        9. Learn to love burpees and other bodyweight exercises for when they close off the weight pile. Check out heavy books from the library (put them in your pillowcase for lifting or for kettlebell style swings). In fact, going for bulk with whatever weights are available to him will help in actually using the crappy carb diet he'll be stuck with rather than packing it on as fat.

                        10. ONLY do your sprints INSIDE the fenced yard (not to be recommended inside the building or on the road detail) and do it in a way where it doesn't look like you are running straight *at* somebody.

                        Shoot me a PM if you have any specific questions that you don't want voiced on the board.
                        Last edited by brahnamin; 06-30-2011, 09:41 AM.


                        • #13
                          A lot of prisons used to have farms for both vegetables and livestock where the inmates would produce their own food.

                          Now, certain large agricultural companies such as ConAgra or Archer Daniels Midland are getting huge contracts to provide "food" to prisons, which typically involve a lot of soy. There's a lawsuit pending in Illinois regarding this, stating that the high amounts of soy are causing people problems.
                          Google info here: illinois prison soy - Google Search

                          I would say that he's not going to have much choice in the matter. A few years of being careful and he'll be out and able to control his foods himself. He won't die from the food they give him; he just won't be as healthy as he could be.

                          As for fitness, if he's doing well on PB fitness, perhaps get him a copy of Convict Conditioning, which takes the PB stuff to the next level.


                          • #14
                            I'm not going to offer advice on the eating side.

                            No judgement here, at least not in the way you meant. I'm going to out myself, though. Professionally, I am a therapist with a speciality of drug counseling. I am currently working with a population of youth that will end up where your son is if they don't get their act together before hand. In addition, I am 20 years clean and sober.

                            If your son is an addict (as opposed to having been popped once for possession related to *recreational* use), he didn't "make a mistake". He was living in mistake for a while to get to that point. Recovery begins at the cessation of use. Research suggests that total abstinence provides the best outcome. He'll need to be working with professsionals (or, at minimum, a self help program) to develop a plan for when he's faced with the real world and easy access to old people and places.

                            It's common for newly recovering addicts to immerse themselves in a seemingly healthy process behavior - another "addiction". It's easy for family members to support that (it is SO much better than before). But be cautious. It is common for the obsessive new pattern of behavior to obscure the "real work" needed to make a sustained change. Personally, I didn't do it with exercise and diet. I did it with self-help books and men. I'm fortunate that I got authentic help before I relapsed.

                            I support you in encouraging him. I also support you in perhaps backing off the level of suggestion you give him. He's a grown man and it's possible that too much help with his eating is developmentally inappropriate.

                            In the midst of a mid-life-chrysalis

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jfreaksho
                              A lot of prisons used to have farms for both vegetables and livestock where the inmates would produce their own food.
                              In my last three years on a road camp in Virginia I worked on the prison farm. They were bringing back the Black Angus cows (one of only two such farms in the world, with the other being in Scotland). We sold the beef to a beef company in Maryland and most of our sizable garden went straight to the warden's house and the rest was sold cheaply to the guards.

                              Those of us who actually worked the farm got to partake on a small, supplemental basis. There were like 10 of us. The rest of the inmates saw none of it.