Thursday, October 8, 2020

Prepper Food Storage and the Type 2 Diabetic

By Timothy Gamble

Food storage is a major part of most preppers' plan for survival. Even the government thinks a certain amount of food storage is a good thing. But for those of us with chronic health conditions, or even those preppers just wanting to eat healthy, face a dilemma. Many of the foods that store well over the long-term are foods we have to avoid. 

I am a Type 2 diabetic. Having been diagnosed with diabetes in 2015 with a A1C level of 10.1 (extremely high), I have worked hard to get my diabetes under control through diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. My most recent A1C was 5.7, achieved and maintained without the use of insulin or other drugs. That's right, I am not on insulin, metformin or any other prescription medication. 

However, that doesn't mean I'm cured. I'm not. If I ever return to my old ways of eating and doing things, my blood sugar will quickly spike up to dangerous levels once again. The fact is I cannot eat a lot of carbs, particularly those with a high glycemic load, or GL, (a measure of how fast and efficiently carbs are turned into sugar in the body). I simply cannot eat things like white potatoes (in all its many forms - baked, mashed, chips, fries, tots, etc.), bread, cereal, pasta, white rice, corn and other grains, even whole grains. I cannot eat anything made with sugar, wheat flour, or cornmeal.  I can eat beans in small amounts without blowing up my blood sugar, but they cannot be the bulk of my meal. 

Now, go back and read that list of what I call my no-no foods. Notice how many of them are on the typical prepper "foods to stockpile" lists. I'm a prepper who cannot eat rice, corn, or other grains. I cannot eat dried pasta or instant potatoes. Ramen noodles are out of the question. I cannot eat breads or anything else made from wheat and other grains. I can't even eat oatmeal (I've tested oatmeal several times, and my blood sugar spikes too high even from this healthy grain often recommended to diabetics). I even cannot eat large amounts of beans, only small portions. So, what is a prepper to do?

The fact is, my diabetes forces me to eat a diet different from the typical diet, therefore my food storage as a prepper is different from that of a typical prepper. Here is how I eat (its similar to the Atkin's diet or the Keto diet, but not exactly the same): 

Fatty foods make up the biggest portion of my daily diet. This includes eggs and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, herring, mackerel, and shrimp, among others), as well as avocados, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, milk, cheese, butter, and most types of nuts and seeds (I love pumpkin seeds, which are also especially good for men in terms of prostate health and sexual function). 

(Link to canned fish on Amazon: )

Many preppers and homesteaaders already have chickens, so have a great source of fresh eggs. Canned fish is readily available for food storage. I dislike sardines, but have stocked up on cans of salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna. I also have been adding cans of shrimp to my food storage, which are great to add to salads or stir-fry dishes. Canned fish should be safe to consume as long as the can remains completely sealed and there is no swelling or bulging of the can. I have eaten canned fish that was more than four years old without any ill effects. 

Side Note: I eat a lot of eggs, typically 18 - 24 a week. They are a staple of my healthy diet. I've been eating this way for over five years now.  Despite this, both my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are well within the normal range. Worries over the cholesterol in eggs is based on old science from the 1970s and before. Modern medical studies have shown that cholesterol levels are primarily determined by a combination of genetics, physical activity, sleep habits, weight, and overall diet, rather than by the cholesterol content of individual foods. 

Protein makes up a moderate amount of my diet. Chicken, turkey, beef, sheep, goat, pork, game, and lean fish (such as bass, perch, flounder, and bluefish among others) are examples of protein. In my food storage, you will find lots of cans of chicken and SPAM, as well as canned hams. Same as with canned fish, canned meats can safely last five years or more, provided the can remains completely sealed and there is no swelling or bulging of the can. 

(Link to canned meats on Amazon: )

Some people can meats, such as hamburger and sausage, in a pressure cooker. I have never done this, but perhaps it is something you might want to look into doing. 

Beans can be considered a protein, although one that also has a lot of carbs. I can eat beans in moderation, so I limit myself to one normal size serving when I have them. Glycemic load varies according to variety, so I try to stick with those with a smaller GL. Lentils are relatively low on the GL scale, as are green peas, green beans, chick peas, black beans and red beans, all of which you'll find in my food storage, both canned and dried.

Carbs make up the smallest portion of calories in my diet. The best, both in terms of nutrition and glycemic load, are salad greens and leafy greens, including cabbage. as well as other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower. I eat a lot of slaws and salads (be careful of the sugars in most salad dressings - some have as much as a candy bar). The good news for preppers and diabetics is that these can easily be grown in gardens. Spinach, mustard, turnip, and other greens can also readily be found in cans, although some brands have added sugar, so read the labels. Sauerkraut (made of cabbage) is another great canned food that I've added to my food storage. Again, read the labels as some brands add sugar.  These things are so low in calories and on the GL scale, that it would be very difficult to eat enough to cause a serious spike in my blood sugar, so I basically can eat as much as I want.

Squash, zucchini, onions, peppers, garlic, and cucumbers are also good carbs with a lower blood sugar impact. All are excellent crops for the garden, and are easily pickled or canned. When buying them canned, beware of the added sugars of some brands.

Tomatoes and carrots have more natural sugars and a higher GL than the foods I've already mentioned, but I can still eat both in moderation. Both are excellent garden vegetables. When buying them canned, I look for brands without added sugar.  

Fruits are nutritious, but high in sugars and have a high impact on blood sugar. Be careful to eat fruit in moderation if you are diabetic. Many brands of canned fruits also have added sugars on top of their natural sugars, making them little more than fruit flavored candies. I eat very little fruit, and when I do, its either a small serving of berries, or a small apple, pear, or citrus fruit.

Carbs I don't eat include white potatoes in any form, flour, sugar, bread, cereal, pasta, corn, rice, and other grains, so there is no need to stock up on those for myself. However, other members of my family can eat those things, so I do include some of those items in my food storage. 

Some good news: Today, many brands now have low-sugar, no-sugar, or no added-sugar varieties. I have found these options in ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and even tomato sauces. Del Monte also has a line of low-sugar canned fruits. Go to the grocery store, do some hunting through their stock, read labels, and find the low-sugar and low carb products. The effort is worth it to your health.

Diabetes, Carbs, and Sugar: Please remember that sugar is a carbohydrate, and one that acts fairly fast on your blood glucose levels. I include this reminder because I've run into a few folks who seem to mistakenly take the advice that diabetics need to watch their carbs to mean that they no longer have to be concerned about sugar. This is a false understanding. Diabetics need to be aware of all carbohydrates that they consume, including sugars.

The Bottom Line: If you are diabetic, you'll have to adjust your food storage to fit what is and isn't a healthy diet for you. The first step is to figure out for yourself what, and how much, you can eat, and what you can't eat. Then adjust your food storage accordingly. Read labels, and be aware of the added sugars and hidden carbs in many brands. It isn't easy, especially if you don't like change, but you can adjust your diet and your food storage for healthy eating.

Have diabetes or pre-diabetes?
Of all the books on diabetes I've read, the best and most useful is 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar by Dennis Pollock. Pollock's book is an aggressive plan to control your blood sugar by bringing together the best of both traditional and alternative medicine. I found his ideas easy to follow, and have implemented many of them in my life.

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