Adjusting to High Middle Ages Diet: How Long for a 21st Century Human?

Imagine being transported back to the High Middle Ages, around 1250 AD. One of the most significant changes you would experience is the drastic shift in diet. The food available during this period was vastly different from what we are accustomed to in the 21st century. The question then arises: how long would it take for a modern human to adjust to a diet from the end of the High Middle Ages, considering the sanitary and food preparation methods of the time? This article aims to explore this intriguing question.

The High Middle Ages Diet

The diet during the High Middle Ages was primarily based on grains, such as barley, oats, and rye. Bread was a staple food, often served with every meal. Meat was also consumed, but not as frequently as in modern diets, and was usually reserved for the wealthy. The diet also included vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. However, the food was prepared and preserved in ways that are quite different from today’s methods.

Sanitary and Food Preparation Methods

Sanitation and food preparation methods during the High Middle Ages were not as advanced as they are today. Food was often preserved through salting, smoking, or drying, which could potentially lead to a higher intake of salt. Cooking methods were also different, with open fires being the most common method. This could potentially lead to a higher intake of carcinogens from the smoke.

Adjusting to the High Middle Ages Diet

Adjusting to a diet from the High Middle Ages would likely be a challenge for a 21st-century human. The lack of variety and the different preparation methods could lead to nutritional deficiencies. For example, the high intake of grains and low intake of fruits and vegetables could lead to a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals. Additionally, the high salt intake from preserved foods could potentially lead to health issues such as high blood pressure.

Timeframe for Adjustment

The timeframe for adjustment would likely vary from person to person, depending on their current diet and overall health. However, it is estimated that it could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for a modern human to fully adjust to a High Middle Ages diet. This would involve not only getting used to the different types of food and preparation methods, but also dealing with potential health issues that could arise from the diet.


While it is fascinating to imagine what life would have been like during the High Middle Ages, it is clear that adjusting to the diet of that time would be a significant challenge for a 21st-century human. However, it also serves as a reminder of how far we have come in terms of food variety, preparation methods, and nutritional understanding.