NO politics. NO religion. Just preps.
Survival & Prep ideas for older beginners. (Formerly "Paleo55plus")
Still prepping after all these years
I had my "prepper's moment of clarity" back in 1999, as the dreaded Y2K approached.
We dodged that one, but the stunned realization never left me: YES, unexpected or "UNLIKELY" events can strip away our normal daily lives. Access to food, water, medical care, sanitation, personal safety, property rights, the rule of law--could actually disappear overnight.
I was an insurance agent then, not a tech or military guy. My wife and I were raising a family--how do you tell your loved ones that there is no more food, no more water, toilets don't flush--and you don't know what to do? If the disaster affects electronics (CME/EMP, below), how do you explain your car won't start, phones and money are useless, there is no way to call police or an ambulance, and that criminals (or maybe just your equally unprepared neighbors) will soon be ransacking your home--and YOU KNEW IT COULD HAPPEN BUT DIDN'T DO ANYTHING?
What about running out of important medications? What about minor cuts and abrasions when there are no more antibiotics and even a small infection can become deadly? All these questions barely even scratch the surface, especially if disasters last months or years.
What disasters? A few we might not see coming:
corrupt or incomplete system programming (Y2K was an exception, plenty of lead time)
cyber attacks, especially on the national power grid (just plain old sabotage)
Coronal mass ejections (CME)/solar flares ("natural" EMP event)
intentional nuclear detonation in the upper atmosphere (man made EMP event)
Other more "traditional" events (some possible warning ahead of time) include:
government collapse--or malfeasance
whoops, don't forget "pandemics"
food distribution / water delivery shutdown (for any reason)
Obviously these are incomplete lists. Anything that interrupts power, water, and food or medicine delivery in your area for more than a few days can change your life--permanently, and maybe not in a good way--if you aren't ready. Extended crises (EMP events are the granddaddy) that are projected to last a year or more will redefine, maybe even end, life as you have come to know it.
My 1999 preps were primitive. Budget was a big deal, and my very pragmatic spouse was NOT on board with my new doomsday ideology. We usually had a few days worth of food so I concentrated on bottled water, Spam and extra ammo for our old home defense revolver. (We'd had it for years but practiced... just ONCE.) Candidly we might have lasted a few days--but would have been easy pickings for gangs or even desperate, better-armed starving neighbors.
Fast-forward to today: let's just say we have made some improvements. Over time we agreed to raise our "beans, bullets and bandages" status to extended readiness. We moved from Los Angeles to a smallish retirement-oriented community in the southwest US, where self-reliance is considered politically correct--even prized. Water storage and filtration are a big deal here in the high desert, and we have addressed this. Our home defense capabilities have mushroomed, and I can't say enough about regular practice with any firearms you might actually use to defend your roost...ammo and expense permitting, of course.
Many dedicated preppers think even longer term--with farm equipment and seed, solar tech/alternative energy skills and gear, elaborate "bug out" strategies, even supply cacheing. Some acquire post-collapse-focused skills (blacksmithing, ham radio, first aid/field medic training, hunting, handloading/gunsmithing; even crowd & crisis management.) Military-style tech, weapons and other gear are prized.
And yes, while longer term survival (after TEOTWAWKI*) is the prepper's holy grail, remember: even a month's worth of food, water and medicine can buy you priceless time to adjust and strategize. Add self-defense capability if you can. In fact, think ahead about what you will do or where you could go when, as preppers say, SHTF.**
...if within the first 48 hours you are starving and thirsty, and can't think beyond how to feed your family right NOW, THIS MINUTE, above any other priority, you will make bad decisions and ultimately fall prey to "takers."
* TEOTWAWKI = "The End Of The World As We Know It"
**SHTF = "Shit Hits The Fan"
The prepper / diet connection
When SHTF, you will be what you eat. This section criticizes standard prepper mantra, so let me say this first:
When we are all starving, weeks or months after store shelves, warehouses, and individual pantries are stipped bare--there will be no "bad" food. Rice, beans, wheat berries, foraged plants and fungi will all be worth more than gold. Some of us will be viewing others of us as food then too. Try to stay off their plate as you fill your own.
But if we have time to prepare, what should we plan to eat after SHTF--and why?
All too often otherwise well-meaning sources advise storing up high-carb, low-fat, low- (or no-) usable protein food. Freeze dried or dehydrated meals, MRE-s, dried rice and other grains, beans and etc. are all easily stored--and you can barter with these as well as eat them.
However, in the years just before COVID, a lot of independent science had accumulated which showed that high carb/low fat diets were in fact UNHEALTHY and led to (or worsened) many chronic diseases including:
Alzheimer's and dementia
Non- "mainstream" research shows many instances where a low-carb, high protein, or even ketogenic diet reversed or mitigated symptoms of these and other chronic health issues. This blog was originally created to promote awareness of this information. Please see my earlier posts--which also discuss the pervasive suppression of this data by public policy in concert with processed food, medical and pharmaceutical corporations.
People naturally eat less when adjusted to low carb/high fat, which can help take some pressure off your doomsday inventory.
Protein is essential for health, especially for those over 65.
Don't forget the fat. Eating lean-only can lead to what the pioneers called "rabbit starvation."
Yes, there are such a things as canned bacon and butter powder.
Please don't forget WATER WILL BE NEEDED to reconstitute freeze/dried "survival food." This can boost water needs from 1 gallon a day per person to 2 or even 3 gallons--will you have the H20?
If you are prepping 1-6 months worth of food, my advice is to go heavy on canned meat (look for fatty types. This year I began revisiting SPAM for its relatively high fat content.) Depending on your storage space and budget, longer term food needs may have to be met with rice, beans or other staples. In an extended SHTF episode, storing, bartering for, or foraging for meat & fat will be tough.
REMEMBER: you will be less alert, more sickly, and have less stamina if you are living on packaged/processed high carb, low-fat food--or even fresh vegetarian / vegan food. TEOTWAKI is not the time be feeling punk or impressing your friends (the ones you haven't eaten yet) with a PC diet.
Our personal low-carb experience
In 2016, entirely by accident, my wife Kathleen and I transformed our lives by embracing the "Paleolithic" diet and lifestyle. Our startling success led me to research the long-term implications of these simple life choices for our retirement years.
Sure, we enjoyed the "usual" Paleo benefits:
losing weight (30 lbs. for Kathy, 40 lbs. for me)
gaining daily extra hours of energy (6 AM - 10 PM with no drop-off)
I stopped getting sick (since going Paleo 1/1/2016 I have had exactly four colds (vs. a handful of colds/flu each year)...plus one nasty allergic reaction to food additives. Kathy, a teacher exposed to hundreds of sneezing kids, still has 80% less illness).
Yes, we both got COVID, but required no medical treatment and bounced right back.
We were even more excited to find our daily routine and easily sustainable diet can actually prevent or mitigate many chronic health issues feared by all retirees. It's hard to imagine "old age" without health problems, but our confidence is high.
See David's SUCCESS STORY on "Mark's Daily Apple", the web site of Mark Sisson,
author of The Primal Blueprint.
Low carb: paleo, primal, keto and beyond
There are many great resources for the nuts and bolts of the Paleo or "ancestral" lifestyle--and why you should consider them. My everyday habits and success are drawn from wide reading and following of:
Mark Sisson (The Primal Blueprint)
Melissa & Dallas Hartwig (The Whole 30, It Starts With Food)
Dr. Terry Wahls (The Wahls Protocol)
Robb Wolf (The Paleo Solution)
Sally Fallon (Nourishing Traditions)
Dr. Sarah Ballantyne (Paleo Principles)
Dr. Loren Cordain (The Paleo Diet, The Paleo Answer)
Diane Sanfilippo (Practical Paleo)
Chris Kresser (The Paleo Cure)
Go to any of these sites, now or later, for great information. They're the experts. There are others as well. Google "paleo" and see what happens.
I strongly recommend reading their BOOKS, not simply browsing websites...but that's just me.
Each resource above offers different emphasis. Not everyone agrees on certain ideas, although the broad principles are common to all.
Sally Fallon, for example, is not technically a Paleo advocate- but her information on whole foods vs. modern industrial processed foods is invaluable. Anyone worried about health and longevity should read Nourishing Traditions, including every sidebar and snippet.
Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint, and his website "Mark's Daily Apple" have influenced and educated millions. I often give this book to friends.
It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, is another under-appreciated gem.
BUT--don't get snagged on any one personality or rule set.
None of these sources will steer you wrong, but you're better off absorbing multiple points of view. Take liberally from each, see what works for YOU.
It's ok to skim the surface at first. Paleo's scientific underpinnings can seem daunting, but don't worry.
You don't have to become a dietitian or biologist to do Paleo.
Go at your own pace. Experiment. Be receptive. Keep learning.
This blog highlights the science in an easily digestible format--eating the mastodon one bite at a time.
Paleo after age 50
Ancestral-style life choices benefit all age groups, but our focus here is those over age 50.
We slightly weathered folks have spent at least a half-century following questionable dietary advice.
We're more likely to be
Obese or at least overweight
Diabetic or pre-diabetic
(insert your symptoms here)
Most people we know are taking medication. Being sicker as we age is our "new normal."
But what was the "OLD Normal?"
Why didn't pre-Industrial Age societies have these problems?
Numerous studies of ancient hunter-gatherer populations show no significant incidence of chronic disease in older (or any) age groups. Hell, studies of CURRENT traditional hunter-gatherer groups (they still exist) show the same thing.
Robb Wolf's Paleo Solution has an excellent discussion of this, please take the time to read through it. See also the work of Dr. Loren Cordain.
These populations were generally FAR more active than we are today, even the pre-industrial agrarian groups. They also consumed no mass-produced processed foods. If they ate something, they (or someone they knew) picked it, grew it or killed it.
Current research increasingly associates sedentary lifestyles and long term use of junk or processed foods with chronic disease. Look at this article on Alzheimer's and diet.
Seemingly innocent items like bread, pasta, most supermarket legumes, sugar and all industrially produced corn & seed oils are "processed foods."
It's your body that's supposed to process food-not a factory.
Paleo living is, on one level, cutting out this middleman. Paleo returns you to what hunter-gatherers ate: meat, fish, eggs, nuts, greens, tubers, and some fruit. (See future posts for fun "gray area" foods like dairy and alcohol.)
But for us retirees (or just us oldsters) Paleo's secret weapon is not just eating a lot of protein, or ditching bread and beans, it's
REMOVING MASS-PRODUCED, REFINED CARBOHYDRATES, PROCESSED FOODS
(OF ANY KIND), SUGARS AND INDUSTRIAL SEED OR CORN OILS from our diets...
...and replacing them with natural, nutrient-dense whole foods.
This is easier than you think. I've done it, and so can you.
Thanks for reading this far. Come back regularly for new information.
Rage against the machine, the coming night,
our "planned obsolescence"
I'm not selling books or courses. At this time I have no "affiliate" links to make money if you click on another site. This is just me sharing what I've learned. Why?
I am mad as hell.
I realized, as I read book after book about the paleo lifestyle, that my generation (and everyone else) has been hijacked-usually for life- by all the "conventional wisdom" out there on diet, nutrition, exercise, and pretty much anything else related to health.
(Now is a good time to read our disclaimer.)
Formerly trusted sources-including academia and major media-now seem more than a little bent by special interests.
The medical profession is coming up short, too, although the newer trend in integrative or functional medicine seems promising.
Sure, I'm happy that doing THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what most conventional sources recommend has turned my own life around...
...but I am less pleased that I had to wait until age 57 to find all this out. That's fifty-plus years of unnecessary medical care, obesity, low quality of life, and needless apprehension about diet-caused illness.
So I am trying to get the word out any way I can. This is me tweaking the nose of global corporate interests that make money on processed foods--and the medical care they generate.
Living well--and surviving TEOTWAWKI alert and resolute--will be our best revenge.
And don't forget...
DAVID WHITESIDE IS NOT A DOCTOR and does not give medical advice or treatment. He offers information and personal experience only. Nothing you read on this website or blog should be construed as medical advice or as intended to supersede information you get from your medical professional. Following the advice given here or on any recommended resource site does not create a doctor-patient relationship or create liability for David or anyone else. David is not liable for any loss or complication you experience from following any diet or taking any action. You should check with your properly accredited medical professional if you think you are injured or ill.
David has given contrarian, non-mainstream financial, long term care and risk-preparedness advice for 24 years. He has blogged about lifestyle and preparedness planning since 2017. See the WRITER page for more background on David.