Prepping for Food Allergies

43609410 - allergic girl sitting at the separate table at the party, looking at the other kids eating food she's not allowed to have, vector illustration

When I was a kid, it was very rare to be around someone that had food intolerances, allergies, or special diets. We never thought twice about taking peanut butter sandwiches to school, everyone could digest milk, I didn’t know a single vegetarian, and I’d never even heard of Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance.

These days, though, things are very different. Whether it’s because our food supply is highly processed and unhealthy or for some other reason, more and more people have been forced to eliminate entire food groups.

In some situations, like anaphylactic allergies, those eliminated foods can be immediately deadly. In other cases, it’s a matter of extreme digestive upset. Still, others have moral or religious reasons for avoiding certain foods.

Since the standard prepper pantry is loaded with grains, peanut butter, and powdered milk, knowing how to prep for those with dietary restrictions is a bit more complicated than just going by a food calculator.

While many families who deal with this problem are great at managing their daily life, what happens when a natural disaster or large-scale crisis hits?

With little to no warning, you may have to evacuate. Grocery stores and pharmacies may be closed or quickly picked over. Hospitals could become overwhelmed. Any of these events could leave you without critical supplies for your food allergic family members, such as medicines and safe allergen-free food.

Always have Epi-Pens on hand. For most people with food allergies, this is probably something you are pretty used to doing. The only way to treat anaphylaxis is with epinephrine, so you need to make sure it’s always available, and you stay well ahead of the expiration dates, so you know it will work when you need it. I also advise having a backup supply in your kit, along with some allergy-free foods and antihistamines.

Find out what plans your doctor has in place to deal with medical emergencies during a disaster. Discuss contingency plans and find out if you can get an extra prescription of epinephrine. During a disaster, medical help may be nonexistent or severely delayed in their response. You need to have enough epinephrine to deal with anaphylaxis to buy you time until you can get to a hospital for additional treatment.

Prepping for a family member with food allergies can be as easy as stocking alternatives for the person, or as difficult as having to keep the offending ingredient out of the supply altogether.

In the event of a life-threatening allergy, you may want to completely banish the ingredient from your home. Anaphylactic shock requires quick medical intervention, which might not be available or accessible during a disaster. At the very least, be sure to have up-to-date epi pens, cortisone, and antihistamines on hand.

Lactose intolerance is rarely life-threatening but can make sufferers feel terrible.  Many people purchase expensive, highly processed non-dairy milk from the store, but another option is to learn to make your own non-dairy milk from pantry ingredients. If this is your plan, be sure to stock up on supplies like rice or almonds.

There is an almost epidemic hierarchy of wheat-related ailments in America today.  At the pinnacle of this is Celiac disease. Sufferers are highly sensitive to gluten in any form.

The Celiac Disease Foundation explains that Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  Two-and-a-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage to the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

The disorder can cause serious long-term health effects and those with celiac disease should never consume gluten, even in moderation.

Not quite as severe, but still highly uncomfortable, is gluten intolerance. People with gluten intolerance can have anywhere from mild to severe reactions to the consumption of gluten.  Issues can include digestive upset, bloating, aching joints, skin problems, and a host of other symptoms.

Many of the food storage guides recommend storing hundreds of pounds of wheat and flour, but if your family has a member with adverse reactions to gluten, it’s wise to focus your purchasing dollars on grains that are gluten free, like rice, organic corn, quinoa, and oats.  Depending on the level of sensitivity, you may need to purchase these from a gluten-free processing facility.

For those with high blood pressure, heart disease, or high cholesterol, it is important to stock food that is less processed.  Many processed foods contain high levels of sodium and saturated fats, both of which can be a cause for concern if you have a family member with these health issues. Sodium can send the blood pressure skyrocketing.

Keep in mind that during a time when you are reliant on your pantry, a prescription that keeps the person’s reactions to these foods under control may not be readily available. It’s imperative that their diet not exacerbates the issue.

As far as your pantry is concerned, it’s important to understand how a diabetic processes food. Carbohydrates are processed in about the same way as pure sugar and can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels.  This means that a large stockpile of grains will be unusable for the diabetic family member.

The ideal diet for a Type 1 diabetic during a crisis situation in which the availability of insulin is in question would be focused on proteins and fats, with as few carbohydrates as possible. Keep the caloric intake fairly low, and spread the food across 6 small meals throughout the day.

For a Type 2 diabetic, the ideal diet during a crisis is a bit different. Plan for small frequent meals that are high in fiber, low in fat, and low in carbohydrates. Be sure that the diabetic person remains active.

Both of these suggested diets mean that your stockpile should have an additional focus on high-quality protein for the diabetic family member, as well as options that are low in carbohydrates.  The grain-filled pantry could be a death sentence for a diabetic family member.

A disaster situation would be stressful enough without worrying about what to feed a family member who suffers from digestive issues or other restrictions. You wouldn’t want to compound the crisis by having someone become ill from stored food that didn’t meet their particular needs.  While many of these special needs would just cause discomfort, others, like severe allergies or diabetes, can be life-threatening in very short order.

With tons of natural and healthy choices, you can find everything you need at the Heaven’s Harvest online store!