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    What’s Your Emergency Food Plan?

    Angela Robbins RD, CD 04/06/2020
    Heart disease, diabetes, weight loss surgery, and other health conditions require patients to pay special attention to what they eat and drink. It takes time to figure out what works for each person and what stores carry the items needed. Sticking to the plan is difficult under normal circumstances so imagine how hard it might be during a state of emergency.

    Local, state or national government can declare a state of emergency due to weather events like a major ice storm or medical events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Common actions during a state of emergency include closing or reducing store hours, limiting the amount of products purchased per customer, or asking people to shelter in place and not get on the roads. The disruption caused by these rules can cause a domino effect of poor health if you aren’t prepared.

    It’s always good practice to plan ahead for emergencies, but that planning becomes even more important when you have specific dietary needs and restrictions. Here are a few tips to help you create an emergency food plan.
    Think ahead
    • Try to keep one week’s worth of food and water in your home. If bad weather strikes, you won’t need to go to the store for several days.
    • Pick up one or two extra items for your pantry during regular shopping trips. This creates an emergency supply of shelf-stable foods without increasing your grocery budget.
    • If there are certain food products you must have (or just really prefer), make sure you know how much you have and when you will need more. Make a specific note of these products in your emergency food plan.
    Recommended items to have in your pantry
    Shelf-stable items that do not need refrigeration are essential to your emergency food plan. Concentrate on items that provide protein, fiber, and nutrients such as:
    • Peanut butter/other nut butters
    • Whole grain cereals and granola bars
    • Whole grain crackers
    • Canned beans and legumes
    • Canned vegetables
    • Whole grain breads or wraps 
    While they don’t last as long as canned goods and require refrigeration, eggs and yogurt with a low sugar content are great items to include on your list. They provide protein and important nutrients.
    Learn to recognize good substitutes for foods you normally eat before there’s an emergency. 
    • Can’t find whole wheat/whole grain pasta? Use regular pasta but add non-starchy vegetables to increase fiber content.
    • Can’t find lean, fresh meat? Use canned tuna, chicken or salmon.
    • Can’t find fresh fruit? Use canned/packaged fruit packed in 100% juice or water. Also consider unsweetened frozen fruit.
    • Can’t find multi-grain sandwich bread? Use tortillas, wraps, or even lettuce in place of the bread.
    Bottom line - do the best you can with what is available to you. During an emergency, the focus should be on safety, not stressing out about groceries.
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