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Dietitians Dish: Be prepared this hurricane season with nutritious food

June 14, 2010 at 1:14 a.m.
Updated June 15, 2010 at 1:15 a.m.


By Kathryn Steve

Reading the title to this article may have caused you to take a double take. You may be thinking, "Are you serious? The last thing I really want to care about is healthy eating while evacuating from or being in a hurricane."

In a stressful situation, people tend to crave foods, such as sweets, which will just cause a crash later. But having healthy, nutritious food in your hurricane kit can have its benefits.

It will help with overall mood, which will help keep you focused, calm and able to think properly in time of disaster. Also, your energy will stay steady causing less energy dips that will make you feel sluggish and possibly ill.

Try to eat every three to four hours and combine a carbohydrate and protein in each meal or snack. Here are some good examples of foods to have in your hurricane kit:

Protein: Nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, etc.) preferably unsalted, peanut butter, tuna pouches, canned seafood or chicken (packaged in water) and canned beans (kidney, navy, lima, black eyed, garbanzo or pinto).

Nuts and peanut butter are great sources of protein, but should be eaten more moderately over the other proteins since they tend to be higher in fat and calories.

Carbohydrates high in fiber will help you feel fuller longer. These could include whole wheat bread, tortillas, crackers, pitas or buns. Canned fruits and vegetables, high fiber cereals (avoid those high in sugar, such as "kid" cereals), oatmeal, granola, individual fruit packs (unsweetened applesauce or diced peaches) and dried fruit.

Fortunately, some fresh fruits and vegetables do not need to be refrigerated and can be great nutritious foods to have; just plan to wash all of the fresh produce and store it in a safe place before the hurricane hits.

Other items to add would be a can opener, spices and herbs, sanitary wipes, hand sanitizer, mixing bowls and utensils, disposable plates, bowls, cups, napkins and silverware, sharp knives for cutting and individual packages of condiments.

Condiment packets such as mayonnaise, salsa, hot sauce, mustard, jelly and ketchup can be added to many of the items in your hurricane kit to make a meal or snack. For example, mix a can of tuna with mayo or mustard and put on whole wheat crackers or bread.

Don't forget cleanliness when preparing food; be sure to sanitize hands and surfaces, throw away any food that looks unsafe and wash all cans before opening.

It is recommended by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to have at least one gallon of water per person per day.

No matter what foods you choose to have in your kit, you should stock up enough food for at least three to seven days.

Make sure you have enough prescription medications to last you a week and also pack over-the-counter medications you may normally use (pain relievers, TUMS, Pepto-Bismol, vitamins). Hurricane season started June 1, so take the time today to get your kit started.

Kathryn Steve is a registered and licensed dietitian. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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