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8 Ways a Diabetic Can Prepare for Disaster

Being prepared is the motto of all mothers who carry giant purses, preppers with bug-out bags, and Boy Scouts. And it’s no surprise…when it comes to an emergency: find a mom with a big purse and she will have what you need, follow the way of a prepper, and ask the Boy Scout to help you start a fire and set up camp.

I am a mom. I try to prepare as best I can. I love the boy scout motto and I have prepared for disaster. But I have a unique circumstance: I have Type 1 Diabetes. That means I’m insulin dependent and my body can’t process sugar. Without insulin, my sugar levels in my blood soar and it slowly eats away at my heart and small blood vessels like acid. This is why Diabetics are at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and amputation of toes and feet. I never thought my life’s goal would be to die with all my toes!

This also means should the worse case-scenario occur, be it a long power outage or something worse, I might not have access to medicine that keeps me alive. I will not sugar-coat (pun intended!) my situation, but the reality is, if I don’t have insulin, I die. I have fought that reality, denied it, and cried about it. But none of those actions change the reality. Should that situation arrive, I will do everything I can to survive until I can find insulin. After much prayer, many tears, and a healthy dose of reality, I have made my peace. When I die, I will be ready: physically and faithfully. It’s going to happen to each and every one of us, I just have a greater awareness of my mortality. Honestly, that feels like a gift. I truly try to live each day as well as I can.

With that in mind, and with my human-nature desire to survive, I have scoured the Internet and books for life-saving ideas, herbal medicines, and hacks that will keep me alive so I can care for my family. In that pursuit, I have discovered the answer: I need to pre-plan for my family so that in the case of my early death, they have what they need. Not the answer I was hoping for, but the truth is not always what I prefer.

That’s one reason my husband and I left our life in the city and moved to the country: food. To grow good food. Real food. It’s been a whirlwind of lessons, laughter, and loss. It’s also been the greatest adventure. We are discovering what truly matters in life: love, faith & family. And food.

So, if you, like me, have a devastating diagnosis that makes your survival a challenge in these strange times, let me know how I can pray for you. Seriously. I will pray for you and there is the greatest power in prayer.

Let’s get to the list of how I am preparing.

1. Grow in faith.

It is only through my Catholic faith that I am not in the pit of despair. Faith gives me focus and purpose and a man to follow. Luckily for me, my husband is deeply faithful, so I have two men to follow. If you are questioning your faith, have questions, or just aren’t sure where to find a good group of people to walk in the faith with, get the wheels in motion and start praying. God will provide. Personally, I have found all the answers to life in the Catholic Church. They were not easy answers to hear, but they make perfect sense to me when I set aside my pride and chose to find Truth. But start somewhere. Ask good questions and DON’T SETTLE. Find your people. Find Jesus. He’s real and he’s waiting for you.

2. Make a list of what you eat.

I have read all kinds of articles about what to stock up on in case of emergencies, and all of it is carbohydrate heavy. It would kill me. For my family, I have stocked up on these things, purchasing 1-2 extra items every time I go to the store and store them in food-grade buckets, in food saver bags or Mylar bags with oxygen packets. But for me, I can’t eat what they eat. Without insulin, I can eat low-carb veggies and proteins and I must stay active. Exercise and Food are either my two arch-enemies or my rescuers. While I am not a damsel-in-distress, I will not cave to the enemy.

Make a list of all the proteins you like and stock up on them. Here is my list:

  • Chicken

  • Pork (any type, but particularly bacon!)

  • Beef

  • Fish

  • Tofu (which needs to be refrigerated and doesn't freeze well, so probably not a great prepper item.)

  • Eggs

  • Protein Powder

  • Greek Yogurt

  • Almond Flour

  • Nuts

Ways to prepare the meat proteins: broiled, pan-fried, roasted, boiled, stewed. Never deep-fried. Never. If someone offers you battered-anything…walk away. You are here to live. Not die a short-lived, deep-fried death.

Beans and rice are called the ‘perfect meal’ but they are not perfect for me. They have a combination of protein and carbohydrates, a combination that without insulin can be devastating. Even with insulin, I avoid beans, eating them only with extremely clean foods (dark greens and lean meats). For my family, I have beans and rice, but I will eat something else.

3. Load up on veggies.

This should be the standard for every person, but it is an essential need for diabetics.

Vegetables, some vegetables, are freebies. I can eat as much as I want and receive a surge of energy and health in return. I know what you’re thinking…it is the same thing I think…veggies are not delicious.

Here is another truth: Salt and butter have no carbohydrates. As long as I don’t match my food with any carbs and I keep my salt intake tasty, but not stupidly high, I learned to love vegetables. As I learned to love them, the taste became more palatable, and I needed less salt and butter to enjoy them. When that happens, I began to crave the vegetables simply for their health benefits, not the taste. When you get to that point, diabetes no longer controls you and you have control over diabetes. I call that victory!

Here are veggies that work well for me:

  • Any dark green vegetable: kale, chard, spinach, and beet greens.

  • Salads with an abundance of vegetables, cheese and proteins. Oil and vinegar dressings only. Skip the creamy ones.

  • Green beans

  • Asparagus

  • Carrots (these are higher in carbs, so limit them.)

  • Celery (with peanut butter or cream cheese is a delight!)

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Eggplant

  • Zucchini

  • Peas (in limited quantities)

  • Corn (never. I listed it here under veggies because people believe it is a vegetable. It’s not. It’s a cob of kernels filled with sugar.)

  • Beets (limited)

  • Cabbage (surprisingly delicious when prepared correctly)

  • Broccoli (delicious and highly nutritious.)

  • Cauliflower (like cabbage, surprisingly delicious.)

  • Microgreens (expensive, but easy to grow.)

  • Mushrooms

When you go to the store and put all these vegetables in your cart (or better yet, harvest them from your garden) and set them on the table, no one will eat them. It is a fact that eating clean and healthy is not for the lazy. Diabetes is not for the lazy. If you have diabetes and are lazy, stop reading now. Nothing I have to say will make a difference. If you want to live, you must work.

Now that you have a list of veggies, find a way to stock up on them. You can stockpile canned veggies, freeze them up, or start your own garden and grow them yourself (which is what I recommend).

4. Make Friends with Fat.

Good fats are not the enemy. Fat will keep me alive if I eat the right kinds and the right amount. Fats will grease the wheels, keep you moving, energize the brain, and keep hormones balanced. What are good fats?

  • Olive oil

  • Omega 3-6-9

  • Butter (real butter, no substitutes)

  • Heavy Whipping cream (your new best friend)

  • Nuts (investigate the carb-fat-protein ratio. Not all nuts are the same. Ask any psychiatrist.)

  • Seeds (chia seeds, sunflower, pumpkin, etc.)

Cook your proteins and veggies in Olive oil or butter.

Stock up on Omega capsules.

Freeze butter.

Befriend a local dairy farmer.

Stock up on nuts. Store them in Mylar bags if needed. Same with seeds.

Nuts and seeds are excellent snacks. Match it with a yummy vegetable and you are set!

5. Sweeten the Deal.

I understand that life comes with nourishment, be it bitter, savory or sweet. I am also a woman. I appreciate sweetness, especially chocolate-sweetness. This is where planning ahead will make all the difference.

Buy: dark chocolate (70-80%), stevia (Sola is my personal favorite) and honey.

Honey is an odd commodity. It is pure sugar. But it is also all-natural. The more natural any food is, the more easily your body will recognize how to use it. If I eat white, processed sugar, my body struggles with it because it has been highly-refined, meaning it has been drastically changed from its original form. Stevia is better because it is an herb, highly sweet without the effects of sugar, but in high quantities, it just doesn’t taste good.

Honey is the tricky balance of both worlds. It is pure sugar in its most natural form. Speaking personally, I can have small amounts of honey in baked goods and have little trouble.

6. Understand Carbohydrates.

The brain requires carbohydrates and fats to operate. Every action we do and bodily function we need is directed by the brain. However, knowing that diabetics can’t produce insulin and are easily overwhelmed by high blood sugars that will cloud the brain, you can see how this would be a problem.

On a day-to-day basis, I do my best to train my mind and body to adhere to these guidelines. I eat as few carbs as possible, knowing that I need them, but I will only eat the very best ones. How I wish potato chips were the best carbs! They aren’t. How I wish I could chow down on a loaded baked potato or a bowl of pasta. But that is not my lot. I have been given the opportunity to struggle, and by the grace of God, I will struggle well!

If my food is perfect (mostly) and my activity is excellent, there will come a moment when I need carbohydrates to overcome a low blood sugar or clear out some mental fog (which can happen on an extremely low-carb diet, research ketoacidosis). Keep the following foods on hand:

  • Sprouted Bread (if storing, keep in the freezer)

  • Quinoa

  • Fruit, canned without any sugar at all

  • Fresh fruit, eaten in small amounts

When blood-sugars are low, it is a terrible feeling: sweaty, numb mouth, disorientation. Panic mode sets in. I have done this many times and I regret it every time: I overcompensate for the sugar low by not giving the food time to work. If I am low (40-70), I feel awful. It is very tempting to eat a bunch of foods to bring up my levels as quickly as possible. All that accomplishes is a tummy full of junk and soaring blood sugars within 30 minutes. As with many aspects of life, this requires GREAT patience.

Test your blood sugar levels and know where you are.

Know how many carbs it takes to raise your blood sugar levels 50 points because that is all it takes. This is different for every person, and requires you to figure it out. Difficult, but necessary, just like figuring out how much medicine is right for you.

Remain calm. Consume the correct amount of carbohydrates to counteract your low, then wait 20 minutes. It will be the longest 20 minutes of your life. But at the end of it, you will still be alive and your blood sugars will not be too high.

7. Three Cheers for Alcohol!

Besides stocking up on vodka for medicinal and germ-killing needs, there are a few low-carb choices that, I believe, may help with mental health, meaning that we all need a little something to take the edge off. Being careful to not overindulge, a few bottles of vodka, unflavored rum, whiskey and dry red wines are good.

As always, be smart about alcohol. After all this work, it would be pathetic to ruin it all just for a buzz that went too far.


. Stay Active

This is often an overlooked aspect of survival. You can have all the food you need, but if your muscles are under-trained, if you can’t run or walk fast, if you can’t perform hard work for at least 30 minutes, then other obstacles are going to bring you down.

The magic number to stay active is 150 minutes a week of getting your heart rate into range. Talk with your doctor about what that range is.

Where do you start? With everything above, start moving. Go for a walk, swim, and lift weights. Join a walking or running club. Find a trainer and learn about posture, weights, and the skill of training.

A healthy body takes work, but that work can be incredibly rewarding!

I hope this helps you find balance and hope in your journey with Diabetes. It's a huge burden to carry, but there are still blessings to be found. May God bless you!

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