Keeping Your Diet Right When the SHTF
This article is not necessarily a plan, but more of a reminder that during a crisis, much of your focus will be on food. Lack of food during a crisis or at any time is detrimental to your physical as well as mental health. People look forward to meals and waking up in the morning knowing there is no food for the day can and will make the day a very unproductive one.
Most everyone knows you can go in excess of three weeks without food and still survive. However, just after a few days without food, your mental function slows, and your energy levels decrease.
Survival is hard work and hark work requires calories from the right foods. Tasks will have to be accomplished that will keep you alive. You need to be alert and ready to tackle any situation that arises and you may not be able to do all this on an empty stomach.
Twinkies, Slim Jims and Pringles/chips are not survival food. They may work for a few days, but even though Twinkies are thought to be able to survive a nuclear blast, they are not good for you during a crisis or at any time for that matter. You have to eat well during a crisis for a variety of reasons. You will need energy and good mental function that only comes from a well balanced diet.
Salty, sugary snack foods should be avoided. Children and adults can snack on nuts, cheeses, jerky, certain crackers and dried fruits or even on cans of fruit. Sodas should be avoided. They only provide empty calories, and do little for hydration.
You can make tea without sugar, and certain sports drinks can provide some minerals and vitamins while helping to keep a person hydrated. Real Lemon packets that are shelf stable can be added to water and teas for flavor.
Protein is important and getting enough during a crisis can be a problem. Empty calories do not provide nutrition and many foods, are just that, empty calories.
Obviously, stockpile what you will eat, but remember fresh foods are not likely to be available. Unless you are raising your own fresh chickens, beef and pork for example, you will have to get your protein somewhere else.
There are numerous options, how you choose depends on your personal preferences, and in some cases, it may depend on your survival plan. Any crisis can force you to evacuate, and this is not necessarily the same as bugging-out. You may be forced to leave until floodwaters recede, until a wild fire is contained and so on. Many evacuations are short-term with the intention of returning home in a few days.
You cannot pack any appreciable amount of canned goods into your bug-out bags so foods will have to be chosen carefully. You may have convinced yourself you would never bug-out, and in most cases, sheltering in place is the best option, but you should always plan for the worst case scenario, and this means you will need foods that can be carried in a backpack without adding significant weight.
Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) are ideal for bug-out-bags. They can be eaten cold and each meal will provide roughly 1,200 calories. Each adult should plan for two MRE’s per day. Each meal is self-contained often times with snacks and drinks and in most cases and they come with eating utensils.
Other options include dried fruits and tuna and chicken that is in foil packets that do not require refrigeration until opened, so consider these essentially single serve packages for your bug-out-bag as well.
Snack on peanut butter and crackers along with nuts and seeds for essential fats, oils and protein.
Dehydrated foods for on the go are not ideal because of preparation times, the fact you need a heat source and you would have to carry additional water for reconstitution of the foods.
Protein bars, dried meats and nuts are an option for your bags as well. Typically, they would be used for supplemental/snacking purposes but if other foods were not available, they would sustain you for a limited time.
Canned foods are the go-to choice for many people for their home’s emergency food stockpiles. Canned foods can be eaten without any preparations, have an adequate shelf life and canned foods offer a good variety. Along with your canned products, you can add dried meats, hard cheeses, and peanut butter for additional protein, dairy and other essentials.
It is recommended that the average adult have as a minimum one can of protein a day such as tuna or canned chicken, one can of vegetables, and one of fruit. For a family of four this is 12 cans per day, which will take considerable shelf space, and once again, if you have to leave you could only carry a limited amount.
Plan to provide between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day for an average adult. Of course, larger persons will require more calories so factor this in. Obviously, you may not have a choice on how many calories you consume in some cases, but planning and having adequate supplies on hand can help you avoid malnutrition during a crisis.
Remember, during a crisis your activity level may increase and so your calorie intake would have to increase as well to sustain energy levels. You may have to walk or bicycle to the nearest emergency relief station, for example, and chores done using power tools today, will have to be accomplished by hand, when the power goes out, so assume that you will be doing more physical work during certain emergencies.
For long-term sheltering in place, you will need in addition to canned foods, dried foods that have an extended shelf life. Dehydrated foods are one option along with pastas, dried beans, rice and various other grain products. Dried foods will require water for preparation and an adequate heat source along with the proper cooking utensils/pot, pans.
Powdered milk is a staple that should be on your shelf whether you drink milk or not because during a crisis it will provide you with many essential vitamins, which are needed by everyone.
You can buy drinks or powders such as Ensure to make sure everyone is receiving adequate vitamins and the right kind of fat daily. It would be a good idea to have enough on hand for each person to have a serving daily of supplemental vitamin drinks. Of course, vitamin tablets or chews would be ideal as well.
Spices are important as well as cooking oils and cooking utensils. You may be forced to cook over an open flame so make sure you have pots, pans and utensils that can be used with high heat. Plastic spatulas and cheap aluminum pans may not hold up.
Flour, honey, yeast, salt, sugar, cocoa powder and other essentials for baking are also something you should have on hand. Honey is ideal for those with a sweet tooth but avoid feeding honey to infants under a certain age.