Okay, so you have a three-year food supply, bagged, wrapped, canned and stored. You have rotated your stock, and stored what you will actually eat. You have it covered right?
Well maybe, maybe not.
Do you know how many calories are in the rice you have stored? Or the pasta? Are you aware of the nutritional and calorific value of your emergency food supply?
Most of us have purchased and stored food based on reality as we know it, and that’s a great starting point, but sadly it doesn’t go far enough.
In a crisis situation, particularly one that involves us in having to grow our own food, chop wood, do all chores using manual labour and move around on foot or using a bicycle, we will use far more calories than we currently require to keep us healthy. Have you accounted for this in your preps?
Calories equal energy, and the more you do the more you need to refuel, to stock up so that you don’t lose an excessive amount of weight. Added to the problem is that all calories are not created equal. Taking in 600 calories from a box of chocolates is fine when you are munching your way through them watching a movie…but would not be fine if you were chopping wood for a few hours, 600 calories of pasta would be far more suitable and provide you with far more energy for the task in hand. Although both foods have 600 calories the chocolate would be burned by your body far faster, because sugar is ‘instant’ energy and is quickly depleted. Pasta is a starch and takes mush longer to give up its energy and therefore satisfies you for longer. Protein is even better and satisfies you for much longer.
It’s important to make sure that you are getting enough fat in your diet. With more than twice the amount of calories as carbohydrates and proteins it is essential to a healthy diet. Adding a little extra fat to the diet of a manual labourer will give them much needed extra calories and prevent excessive weight loss if other foods have to be used more sparingly than anticipated.
Whilst you wouldn’t starve to death if you lived on a diet of rice and pasta you would be in nutritional deficit in a relatively short space of time. The nutritional content of what you are eating in a crisis situation is of prime importance. If you do repeated manual work, the real world equivalent of working out at the gym daily, you need to fuel your body properly. Not doing so will not only lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies but weakness and muscle wastage, two of the last things you want when you have so many things to do that require you to be at peak fitness.
Making sure you have a diet that contains enough protein, fats and carbohydrates will be critical and the time to find out you are short on one of these major food groups is not at the point you need to rely on them.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are good to have, in fact I personally feel they are a necessity in a crisis situation, but as good as they are they cannot stop your body breaking down muscle to use for energy if you are not eating enough protein. You can get an overview of recommended amounts of macronutrients you require here.
Portion control also needs to be mentioned. As stated the calorific requirements of someone doing high level regular manual work will be far in excess of their normal requirements. Obviously this means they will need more food on their plates and this could easily cause a shortfall in your stored food supplies over time.
Portion control and the proportions of carbohydrates proteins and fats per meal should be considered ahead of time for each member of the group and should be based on their energy expenditure alone. Fussiness and preference should not be considered as a day to day thing, neither should general appetite size prior to the crisis. just because cousin Johnny is a big lad with a hearty appetite does not mean he gets extra food unless he is doing the extra work to ‘earn’ it.
There are many calorie calculators on line and getting a few print outs/notes for different weights would be useful. Make your list in increments of 5 pounds to give you a rough idea of the calorie requirements for people across a variety of weights.
Fussiness has no place in a crisis, people will not generally starve themselves and providing food is not overly ‘stylised’ that is overly hot and spicy, or full of exotic and unfamiliar ingredients people will eat it when they are hungry enough. If there are younger children in the group having a supply of relatively bland foods such as custard, cream rice, plain pasta etc is advisable.
It’s also worth considering if a few boxes of nutritionally complete meal replacements should be added to your preps. These are useful to have around if someone has been ill or off their food and is not yet able to return to a full solid diet. They also make a great addition to bug out bags and backpacks as they have a high calorific value and are protein based. presented as a dry powder made up with milk or water they add hardly any weight to a pack.
Baby formula and powdered weaning foods should also be added to your supplies. You may not have babies in your group now but in a long term event they may well be new arrivals at some point. Although breast is best not all new mothers are able to breastfeed and even those that can may not be able to produce enough milk for a particularly hungry baby.
A complete list of food allergies should be kept in a file in the kitchen/food prep area and until everyone is familiar with known allergies within the group it should be referred to regularly. dealing with a case of anaphylactic shock in the middle of a societal meltdown would turn a crisis into a total disaster, most likely for the victim.
Having a stored food supply as insurance against a personal, national or even global crisis is great. Making sure that food supply is nutritionally balanced and contains enough calories for a new reality is even better.
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