Hurricanes and wild fires have been causing catastrophic damage in the U.S. for the last several weeks. Hurricane Irma is currently pummeling Tampa, Florida. I have been watching this storm obsessively for the past 72 hours. I have friends and family to worry about; and I also find weather amazing! If I wasn’t a dietitian, I may have become a storm chaser!
I am a couple days late with this post; however, I have a strange feeling that this crazy weather isn’t over. Due to these powerful storms, millions of people have been forced to leave their homes and seek safety in community shelters, like hockey arenas, schools, and conference centers. The recommendation that city officials have been giving these individuals and families is to bring 3 days’ worth of food with them when they hunker down in these shelters. During this difficult and anxious time, it is important to take the best foods to ensure you are getting the nutrition you need for the 3-4 days you may be in the shelter, especially to fight fatigue and give you strength for potential cleanup efforts.
Bottled Water – take enough water for three or four days. I recommend at least one gallon of water per person per day. Bottled water is the best choice because your water may not be drinkable after a storm, so you will need bottled water to drink and potentially cook with.
Canned foods – canned goods, such as fruits, vegetables, and meat like tuna or chicken is a great choice. These non-perishable foods are shelf-stable and do not need to be refrigerated or cooked. Most canned foods can last up to a year on the shelf; which is why these are great choices if you will not have the ability to cook for several days. The best choices are tuna, chicken, salmon, green beans, peas, beets, carrots, tomatoes, baby corn, pineapple, mandarin oranges, peaches, pears, and fruit mixes.
Canned soup and instant foods – you may have access to a microwave; especially if your shelter is a school or conference center. Soups are a great choice, because warm foods oftentimes provide feelings of comfort. Other instant foods like mashed potatoes, microwavable rice and oatmeal are good choices as well.
Nuts and nut butter – these are great to keep in protein and healthy fat; plus, they are higher calorie, so if you have less opportunities to eat these are great options. Any of your favorite nuts are great, but for nut butter you will want to stay away from the natural kind, because these require refrigeration after opening.
Cereal and Crackers – whole wheat cereal and crackers are a great choice to keep fiber in your diet and for some snacks. For your cereal, you can also buy shelf-stable soy or almond milk or use powdered milk, which can last for up to six months. Crackers are a perfect complement to your nut butter.
Fruit – apples and bananas are also perfect pairings for nut butter. Dehydrated and dried fruits are also great choices, because they can last a long time at room temperature and they are a good source of quick energy.
Cooler items – if you do have the ability to take a cooler, you have a little bit more flexibility in what you can pack. The best choices are lunch meat, raw vegetables, hummus, cheese sticks, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of those effected by these storms. Please do your best to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy.
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
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