Making other plans, Part 1

In my September 13, 2013 entry, I talked a little about how we were back to square one with our preparations. In this series, we’ll begin to address what that looks like and how we’re dealing with it… or trying to…

Making other plans, Part 1

Previously, we had been preparing with the goal of maintaining two adults with a conventional sort of assortment of food and a butt load of water. Now, we’re preparing with the goal of maintaining three adults – and two of those adults have a diabetes diagnosis. This may not seem like a big deal, but both of those diabetics control their blood sugar through exercise and carbohydrate restriction. The other could eat whatever was on the table, but wouldn’t be harmed by the carb cutback. When you look at most prepping  and survival websites, you’re going to see all this advice on buying and storing grains, and what to do with grains, grinding grains, and baking breads in your solar oven, great desert ideas and 1001 ways to cook oatmeal and all that.

Not so much with that for us. Not anymore. We could maybe get away with a little of that for a short term survival situation, but it wouldn’t be long before the carbohydrate load was causing my diabetic housemates to suffer mood swings (just what you need during an emergency), headaches, and the other health effects you get when a diabetic’s blood sugar gets out of hand: they’ll catch every cold that’s going around; they’ll become susceptible to urinary tract infections; and the list goes on. NONE of that is what you want to be facing when you’re in a situation where everyone needs to be functioning as close to 100% as possible.

So, how do you prepare when you have to get 2,000 – 3,000 calories a day, but fewer than 100 carbs? That’s a damned good question. One which we’ve been working on for nearly two years.

First, the good news

The good news is that neither diabetic requires insulin. Unlike many other diabetic households, we’re not faced with the daunting task of procuring and storing insulin. We do, however, have to worry about getting enough of the right kinds of calories while not slowly killing the diabetics with carb overload.

Some folks might poo-poo this carb restriction approach, but it is the only thing which has worked for the two diabetic adults in our house. It has allowed them to stay off insulin, cut back to the most minimal doses of their glucophagic medication (now it’s a PRN instead of an everyday med), caused weight loss, lowered their triglycerides, and lowered their blood pressure. Writing as the non-diabetic in the household, here’s what it did for me: 145 points off my triglycerides in 8 months and I lost 40 pounds. Dropping the weight also dropped my resting heart rate and gave me the energy to do more stuff: like exercise – or just get my chores done. So, laugh all you want, the carb restriction has done great things for us… now the question became: how do we prep?

minnesota public radio waterMore Water. No, really, MORE water.

When you’re cutting carbs, you’re naturally consuming more protein and more fat to get your calories. The reason this matters for your preps is that these foods require more water for your body to process them. It takes more water from your body to break down the proteins and fats, and more water to transport away the waste products of their metabolism.

We drink a lot of water anyway – about an ounce per two pounds of body weight per person per day at minimum. Usually more. An ounce of water per pound of body weight is not unusual for us – and we’ll go more than that if we’re working hard, or if it’s really hot, or both. This is what everybody needs minimally anyway. But if you’re low-carbing it, adequate water intake is essential for proper kidney and liver function. Seriously essential: no one wants to deal with liver damage or kidney failure — especially during a crisis.

So, adequate water. What’s adequate water? Again, our rule of thumb is a minimum of two ounces per pound of body weight per person per day. For example: let’s say you weigh 150 pounds. You’d need a minimum of 75 ounces of water a day, every day. If you were working hard chopping wood in winter, or fixing fence in the sun, you’d need a minimum of 150 ounces – one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. You might even need more if you tend to sweat profusely. And, if you low-carb it like we do, you’ll need to be much closer to that one ounce per pound mark.

I weigh 140 pounds. My water bottle I use at the office holds 26 ounces (what a weird number, right?). I drink at least 3 of them every day – 78 ounces of water. That gets me my minimum number every day. When I’m outdoors working, like I was last weekend, I drink far more than that. Last weekend, when I was outside both days, I drank 6 liters on Saturday (that’s 203 ounces of water) and 4 liters on Sunday (135 ounces). I was wrung out from the heat, but even on Monday my urine was clear and copious.

Cody Lundin, one of my prepping/survival idols, recommends stockpiling 3 gallons of water person per day. For him, this includes the water you use for hygienic purposes. If you’re adding extra water to compensate for processing the proteins and fats, this would certainly be your minimum number – and it should probably be even higher.

Now that you have a better idea of how much water you need every day, how much water you need to store is a matter of multiplying your daily gallons by how many days you want to be prepared. Let’s say I’m stockpiling 4 gallons water per day per person in my household. That’s 12 gallons. If we’re prepping for a week (really y’all, 72 hours is a joke… FEMA tells you in disaster training to prepare for a minimum of two weeks — that 72-hour thing is only for the most minor emergencies)… 12 gallons x 7 days is 84 gallons. Two weeks: 168 gallons (about 712 liters of water – that’s 60 cases of those little water bottles). A month: 336 gallons. That’s a lot of water. A whole lot of water.

I’m not going to go into how best to store water. That’s far too individualized and many other authors cover the subject more than adequately. What I want you to take away from this entry today is this: if you have special dietary and/or medical considerations, you don’t get to prep like everybody else.

I’ll be honest. We don’t have enough water put away. Not yet. We have numerous cases of “those little water bottles” that we buy when they go on sale. But we don’t have enough. As a household, we’re currently discussing how we want to handle the expense and logistics of storing more water. We’re debating various options: opening our well (our property has a sealed well on it), buying a storage tank, putting in rain barrels, etc. And we’ll keep you posted as the planning and implementation goes along.

Here’s what I want you to take away from this: if you have a medical condition like diabetes, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, etc. you are not going to be able to prepare like everyone else. You might want to say “Oh, just forget my diagnosis,” but you can’t. Your survival during a crisis situation depends on being even more conscious of your diagnosis before all hell busts loose. The good news about this is that when you feel you’re finally squared away with your preps, your diagnosis is going to be one less thing you have to worry about.

So, that’s it for Part 1 of Making Other Plans. In Part 2 we’ll talk a little more about water and start to dig into the issue of food and how we’re handling it.

As always, thanks for reading. We’re stronger together.


References & Recommended Reading

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes, Cody Lundin, 2007, Gibbs Smith Press.

Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life, Nora Gedgaudas, 2001, Healing Arts

Image courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio


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