In a SHTF event, when food delivery systems are down and the stores quickly run out of all food supplies, how will you keep eating healthy? Does healthy eating have to include the “grocery store staples?” I think there are ways to eat healthy, or at least avoid super unhealthy food options, even when the world runs amok.
Everyone used to prepare for winter by putting up the summer and fall fruit and vegetable abundance. Eating healthy is important at any time, not just after SHTF, though it will likely be paramount to survival after. Many canned and processed “survival” foods are high in sodium or added sugar. While these additives make the end product more tasty and appealing, it could well end up damaging your body.
Added salt could very well be the worst. Too much salt can cause an imbalance with your body fluid levels. Excess salt has also been linked to high blood pressure, and after the SHTF you may not have the ability to deal with a heart attack or stroke caused by high blood pressure. So keep salt intake low if you have high blood pressure or a family propensity for it. Making your own canned food and learning to cook from dried and minimally processed stored foods can help minimize salt consumption.
Also on salt, if you have low blood pressure, you will want to keep at a moderate consumption level. Low blood pressure is just as dangerous as high, if not more so as there are fewer ways to address low blood pressure.
Sugar can weaken your immune system, while the crash of a sugar rush can lessen your ability to focus or perform physical activity. Avoid added sugar in your preps, and stick with natural sugar sources or those that have other added benefits, like the antimicrobial action of raw honey.
The more processed your food survival preps are, the higher the likelihood that they will contain added salt and sugar. Prep plain dried foods like dry beans, whole nuts, and dehydrated fruits and vegetables to keep the sneaky salts and sugars to a minimum.
In a SHTF situation, you are eating to fuel your body for peak performance. Too many additives can adversely impact your health, and thus your ability to survive when your body needs to be able to act and react effectively. Too much salt impacts your blood pressure and water retention. A sugar high, and crash, can cause brain fogginess, muscle shakiness, and general distraction.
Are salt and sugar evil? No, you need salt to for your body to function, and some sugars occur naturally and are beneficial, but you don’t need the sneaky added sugars and salts that are used to make over-processed food appear edible after storage. Not to mention the processing may not give you the best bang for your nutritional buck either.
Prep and Store Healthy Food
If the grocery store is out of everything, the only place you can “shop” will be in your preps. If you’ve only stored unhealthy food, you’ll be stuck eating unhealthy food. If you’ve stored healthy food, you’ll have healthy food to consume. It is easy to buy beans, rice, and wheat in bulk, and cycle through using and replenishing it so that it’s always fresh. Fruit can be home dried, canned, and even fermented, while veggies can also be canned, dried, fermented, or kept in cool storage.
Make sure you don’t forget to store and cycle through protein sources as well. This can include dehydrated cheese, dried meat, canned soup stock, or canned fish and other sea foods. If you are hesitant about stocking protein sources, think of it less as prepping and more as stocking your pantry. Get the foods that will last in your pantry and that you enjoy eating while they are on sale or inexpensive to save money, time, effort, and possibly your life.
Know How to Cook and Enjoy Eating Your Preps
This goes hand in hand with buying what you know you’ll eat. Dried beans may store well, be a very good protein and carb source, and be cheap in bulk, but they are useless if you hate beans, are allergic, or don’t know how to prepare dried beans. Same with canned, dried, freeze dried, and all other types of preps. While specialized survival food may be tempting, ask yourself if you’ll actually eat it and if the preservatives, flavours, sugars, and other additives are worth the convenience.
An emergency is a huge stressor on your body. If your emergency preps are the food your body is already used to consuming, then that is one less stress on your body and you will be better prepared to face the other stressors. Your body does not need the added stress of a suddenly changed diet when it is trying to cope with an emergency.
Further, stocking up on the foods you normally eat and/or gradually transitioning your diet to match your stockpiles will also build a natural stock and refresh cycle so you can avoid throwing out past-dated food.
Make sure you prep cooking supplies as well. Having food on hand does nothing if you have no way to prepare it. Whether it is a propane stove, a solar oven, or an open fire, have some way to cook and practice cooking on it. It may be awkward, annoying, or frustrating at first, but nothing beats knowing for sure what, where, and how your next meal will happen when everything else is uncertain.
Are you and your body used to consuming fresh tomatoes in January? Or lettuce and sugar snap pea salad in the heat of September? Learning to eat seasonally can help you stay healthy, no matter the circumstances. One of the things seasonal eating requires is a knowledge of what is in season and what will store for winter. Enjoy lettuce in its sweet spring prime, and dry any slightly bitter leaves to grind and add to winter soups as a vitamin boost. Several pounds of greens, dried and ground to powder, will fit in a quart jar.
Many died and suffered before a creative mind found an ingenious solution to maybe a century old problem. Believe it or not, our ancestors skills are all covered in American blood. This is why these must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same for our children and our children’s children.
I went to my grandfather to find out how he survived and to learn the little secrets that helped him stay alive in spite of almost everyone else dying.