As I mentioned earlier, we had a bit of a problem in this area of Idaho in the middle of August. Not to be to dramatic, but people were evacuated from their homes at 3 a.m. in the town just south of me. I watched flames come over the ridge and ignite trees across the street, and I basically didn’t even sleep without my HAM radio.
Since we live at a fire station, we weren’t evacuated. Or, rather, we weren’t forced to leave, but Stella and I had our valuables packed up in the car and were ready to go at a moment’s notice. But one of the biggest problems I faced was what to eat if we were to be evacuated, and what to eat while dealing with the emergency.
Here’s a short list I’ve compiled to help you if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. I’m sure that many of you who are not Paleo for medical reasons will choose to forego the diet for the duration of the emergency, but these guidelines apply for those of you who are gluten-free, grain-free and peanut-free and cannot “backslide.”
How To: Eat in an emergency
If you even suspect that you are going to be evacuated, get stocked up on bottled water, Larabars, apples and other shelf-stable items that you can easily throw in your car and take with you. If you’re primal or just gluten-free, string cheese in a lunchbox with a cold pack would be a great choice. Organic unsweetened applesauce is another great choice, and usually doesn’t even need a cold pack. You can also make a Paleo trail mix with raisins, cashews, coconut chips and sunflower seeds.
Do not expect your shelter to accommodate you.
Red Cross shelters are not equipped to ensure that you can remain gluten-free. Count on either feeding yourself, ingesting some gluten or leaving the shelter to dine out at a restaurant you trust. It’s a sad fact, but if you have medical issues, the shelter workers will probably either be ill-educated or ill-equipped (or both) to ensure you don’t ingest gluten, peanuts, etc. They have a lot of people to deal with and very limited resources.
Stay away from “energy” items.
About two days into the fire, I wondered why I had a stomachache. Then, I realized that in an effort to stay hydrated, I had been drinking Gatorade, which contains (among other items) modified food starch, often derived from wheat.
GU, Gatorade and other energy items are full of super-refined and modified sugar and other ingredients that will make you feel worse, not better. Stick to water and naturally energizing foods, such as fruit and nuts. That said…
Give yourself a break.
On the same note, if you can medically swing it, give yourself a little break. If you are in this situation, your whole body is running on adrenaline and basically freaking out. If sugar makes you feel better, eat some.
I indulged in some Coconut Bliss and Soy Delicious Coconut ice cream for sure during this fire — not a great choice, but it was still soy-, dairy- and gluten-free, so I felt better about the agave syrup and tiny amount of guar gum (which is in my coconut milk anyway). And since it kept me from making a batch of Jaques Torres chocolate chip cookies, I felt even better about it.
Do you guys have any great suggestions for staying healthy during an emergency? Let me know in the comments!