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As a former member of the Swedish home guard youth, I was told during a survival exercise that you could eat only freeze-dried food for about two weeks. Young and green as I was, I swallowed the statement without any further thought.

I have come to discover that this statement was not all truth. The recommendation is given by the Swedish military to make sure that soldiers don't go too long without varying their meals. Since the MREs (meals ready to eat) you are getting at the army is somewhat limited in variation, they also recommend that you try to eat plenty of fibre alongside your allotted food rations.

Deciding to test this out by myself I bought the approved MRE (aka. Grönpåsen) for full two weeks. After about a week of nothing but freeze-dried, I felt pretty normal in forms of physical strength and nothing stood out. Aside from the fact that I went to the bathroom about three times in that week, it didn't feel like anything was wrong.

After the full two weeks, I felt that nothing had changed, except the regularity of my bathroom visits (and the fact that I was getting pretty bored with the food). I should probably have ate something rich in fibre on the side to alleviate the lack of it in my diet. This I discovered when I returned to eating normal food, let's just say that I was struck by "Montezuma's revenge" a couple of hours after my first "normal" meal.

So my question is as follows:

What is the maximum time one could live on freeze-dried food and keep a
healthy level of nutrients and minerals?
Also, how would this diet affect the digestion?
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possible duplicate of Is a varied diet necessary while backpacking? –  Kate Gregory Aug 15 '13 at 11:39
1  
@Marcus I suppose freeze-dried food would be high in salt. But they sell a great variety of it now. Assuming you have unlimited water, I see no reason you couldn't survive indefinitely. –  theJollySin Aug 15 '13 at 15:41
    
@theJollySin I suppose you're right, but I need something more than an assumption. I would love to see some scientific report on the subject. –  Marcus Wigert Aug 19 '13 at 6:20
    
possible duplicate of Is freeze-dried food healthy? –  Liam Feb 6 at 13:26
3  
A normal fit person can go without any food for longer than two weeks, so clearly the two week limit on freeze-dried food is bogus, unless you think eating freeze-dried food is actually worse than no food at all. Take a look at how long people on hunger strikes have lasted. The answer is much longer than two weeks. –  Olin Lathrop Feb 6 at 14:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

As far as I know you should be able to survive for quite a long time. I often hear about ocean racers who have just freeze-dried foods to eat and they live on that for more then 2-3 months at a time.

There are no side effects, they are in fact very healthy.
So I see no issues apart from a very dull taste that you can't live on this indefinitely.

As far as side effects I don't know...

some references:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/sailing/3683649/Brian-Thompsons-on-board-meal-plans-during-the-Vendee-Globe-World-Race.html

http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/news/4605_Life-in-a-foil-packet-existing-off-freeze-dried-food.html

These pros might not live on just dried food,
but if you search further there are some people who have.

share|improve this answer
    
Could you provide a reference regarding one of these ocean racers and his diet? –  Mr.Wizard Feb 6 at 9:42
    
added a few references –  HTDutchy Feb 6 at 10:48
    
Thanks, and +1. –  Mr.Wizard Feb 6 at 10:52
1  
They are adding Manua honey, raisins and gogi berries to stop rickets and cheese for vitamins and calcium and special oil high in Omega 3, not cooked, eaten with a warm meal –  QuentinUK Feb 20 at 8:49

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