Friday, December 7, 2012

Special diets and medical needs for preppers

Some people choose to follow certain diets, for a variety of reasons.  Some people must follow certain diets because of medical conditions.  Both groups of people already deal with these issues in every day life.  But when it comes to prepping it can present challenges.

What if you're allergic to wheat?  For a lot of people whole wheat and it's products are a major part of food storage.  If someone who will be eating with you, if the STHF, is allergic to wheat or is gluten intolerant, you will want to be sure there are things they can safely eat. 

Wheat allergy is an easy one to replace with other food items, and is not always the same as gluten-intolerant.  My husband is allergic to grass, and wheat is a member of the grass family.  He can eat things with gluten in it from sources other than wheat, but has the symptoms of hayfever when he eats wheat products: runny nose, scratchy throat, sinus headache.  For our food storage I make sure we have plenty of rice, oats, and corn.

People with gluten intolerance often have a whole list of grains and foods they have to avoid, including all the variations and names given to those products used in food processing.  Most of their grocery shopping is probably ingredients for cooking from scratch, rather than packaged foods.  These would make up their food storage, too.

Dairy is another common allergy.  There are soy-, rice-, and almond-based 'dairy' products.  For storage there are sources of powdered rice milk, and powdered soy 'sour cream' and 'cream cheese'.  We order ours from Azure Standard, of Oregon.  It's not difficult to make soy milk or rice milk, and many things can be prepared with water instead of milk, such as biscuits and pancakes.

Diabetics have special concerns to address.  First thing I'd do is to buy a huge bag of hard candies and divide it into small bags and vacuum-seal them.  That way they'd have a supply of quick sugar for blood sugar drops.  Be sure to put a handful in bug-out bags and spread them throughout your food storage.  Diabetics know better than anyone what they'll need.  This isn't the time to be shy about it.  Make sure to add these things to your storage.

Some diabetics are storing their choice of artificial sweeteners.  I don't know if the shelf life on those vary, but if you use them, you're probably familiar with them.  If you live in a warm climate you can grow Stevia.  I grew it as an annual one year in our cold climate.  I harvested the leaves and dried them as I would any herb.  I put them right in with my tea herbs when I made tea.  I don't generally use artificial sweeteners but I wanted to experiment with this.  I could have brought one or more of the plants inside over the winter but I haven't had great success with houseplants.

Several people are following special diets for High Blood Pressure or Heart Disease.  I've been corresponding with a reader who wrote: "I am on the Dr. Esselstyn program for heart and diabetes. All bloodwork is now normal!!! There are no animal products or dairy plus no added fat. Normal suggestions for putting back do not fit in my case. I eat from the stored beans, rice, oats, etc." 

Some of the easiest and best storage foods fit with that diet.  Beans, rice, oats, and probably other grains as well as fruits and vegetables, would help stabilize high blood sugar.  For most of us we'd need and want some fats for energy.  If the SHTF ever does happen, we'll all be working hard just to accomplish daily tasks for survival; and a lot of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure will probably improve or go away altogether.  We'll have fewer problems from fats and salt, and in fact might be struggling to find sources of them.

No matter what special diets or needs you, there are foods that can be stored so that you can maintain optimal health.  I hope you're encouraged to look for options and answers.

The best advice I can give for people on medications is to try to get off them if you can.  Not everyone can do that, but if you're just mildly diabetic or have borderline hypertension, changes in lifestyle and diet can often eliminate the need for meds.  Most people probably already know that, but maybe hearing it from another source helps encourage people to seek them out.. 

It's really hard to change our way of eating.  But if you truly believe it's possible that there will be any sort of long-term disaster, collapse, or war or anything that could interupt your meds, then it's worth making the effort.  For me it's easier to make little tweaks in my diet and add more excercise.  I find that going for regular walks or bicycle rides keeps my blood pressure lower than making dietary changes by themselves with little or no excercise. 

If some sort of disaster or collapse happens and it looks like it's going to be for the long haul, make sure you know how to go off your meds.  Some are dangerous to stop cold-turkey.  You need to know how to wean yourself off of them.  Be sure to keep your prescriptions filled as early as you're allowed to, and go for the 90-day supply whenever possible.  That way you'll have enough left to wean yourself off them by breaking them in halves, and then fourths.  When you reach the fourths, then cut back to every other day, then skip two days, etc.  It can take a few weeks.  It may vary, too, so check with your doctor for instructions.  Tell him/her that you're just trying to learn all you can about your meds.

Find out if there's any herbs in your area that can be used to make a fascimile of your drug.  Research this carefully and through reputable sources.  I have some knowledge of this but there are too many to put in a blog post.  If you have a medicine that you're concerned about, please email me and I'll see if I can help you find a substitute.  The substitutes are not my recommendation for stopping your 'real' meds or to stop seeing your doctor.  They're for emergencies or survival situations.  But having the knowledge could save your life or that of a loved one.

I have a friend who has diabetes and he uses apple cider vinegar in place of the Metformin he was taking.  He says it has to be 'real' apple cider vinegar, like Braggs, with "the mother" in it.  He uses a tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water before each meal.  I did some internet research on that and found several websites that agree that apple cider vinegar helps with type II diabetes and also can help lower high blood pressure.  However I found a lot of variation in the amounts recommended. 

Type I diabetes is a whole different deal than Type II.  I've never known of any substitutes for Insulin until I came across this comment on a search today:  "I am storing dried blueberry leaves for tea for my nephew (in case of SHTF), he has Type 1 diabetes. From what I have found, 1 cup of tea is equal to one unit of insulin."  I've never heard that.  Does anyone know about this?  I'd hate to mess with anything as serious as Type I diabetes, but if your life is on the line and there's no more insulin, it's at least something to try.  However, if it was as simple as that, I'm surprised I didn't find it mentioned anywhere else.

I'm really stumbling my way through this post, but my heart is in the right place.  I'm hoping to help find answers for those with concerns about diet or meds.  These things make prepping even more of a challenge. This is definitely a post where I welcome comments, suggestions, and questions.



  1. This is a great post! I am looking at ways to get off Armour Thyroid and bioidentical HRT, so if you have any tips pleast post. I am looking at coconut oil and kelp for boosting my own thyroid function, still researching, and have not implemented yet.

    My husband is diabetic type 2. It is reversible (not curable) with proper diet and exercise, and type 1 will greatly benefit from the same. Totally plant based, low fat diet, lots of exercise! One hour of walking=5 units of insulin.


    1. Thanks for writing! Yes, coconut oil is good for thyroid function, and kelp is high in iodine, which is great for the thyroid. It seems like your research is pointing you the right direction. It's a good goal to get off the HRT meds, since there's so much controversy about it's safety. I'll see if I can come up with some other suggestions for you. My first suggestion, though, would be to go ahead and start the coconut oil and kelp. Make sure your doctor knows.

      Your husband is on the right track with his Type 2 diabetes. I didn't know the measurement: one hour of walking = 5 units of insulin. You're right, it would help both types of diabetes. The more you can slow or stop the progress of the disease, the better, and the more you can reduce or eliminate the need for medication, even better.


    2. We're getting heavy snow tonight and our phone is out. The internet often follows, so if someone comments and I don't get right on it, that might be why. We're off-grid (solar power), so losing electricity isn't an issue! :)


  2. I would be interested if you found out anything to help with the thyroid as well. My doctor is not interested in anything natural. At least if I have it stored I can use it if the shtf & I run out of meds. I'm defiantly going to start with the coconut oil. I love the taste. I will be going back in in about 5 weeks for a re-check. Hopefully your phone & internet won't be out to long.

    1. There is an ayurvedic/indian herb known as ashwagandha that can help with stress and also help strengthen an underactive/low/weak thyroid. I would not look to it as a replacement for meds now but perhaps it could help later. I would definately want to be monitoring thyroid regularly if you were interested in trying it out now to see how it does

      I dont know how long it needs to be taken before thyroid results could possibly be seen, but the anti-stress part kicks in pretty quick. It is primarily known for its anti-stress properties.

      Research this for yourself and see if this is something that could appeal to you


  3. The phone is still out, but we have internet. We think the snow must have gotten into the phone box where it comes into the house. After weeks of rain, it's funny snow would be what put the phone out. The phone company has been out a couple of times to look at it and says they don't see where water could be getting into it, so....?

    I'm glad you're going to start the coconut oil. You can store both that and the kelp, as back-ups to your meds. One of my son's friends uses kelp, so I'll check with him and see what he does and why. I know he orders it in powder form and mixes it.

    I use mainly coconut oil in my kitchen, and sometimes Olive oil. I'v even started using it in place of butter on pancakes. It gives it a wonderful flavor, along with some honey. That's what I just had for breakfast! :) And maybe as a side bonus, it'll help keep my thyroid healthy.


  4. "I am on the Dr. Esselstyn program for heart and diabetes. All bloodwork is now normal!!! There are no animal products or dairy plus no added fat. Normal suggestions for putting back do not fit in my case. I eat from the stored beans, rice, oats, etc."

    I'm the opposite. I'm missing several enzymes needed to digest vegetable proteins, and I have the lab tests to prove it! For me, things like canned tuna and powdered milk are a must.

    About the thyroid question, Armour Thyroid is dried and powdered pig thyroids. There have been cases of hyperthyroid epidemics being caused by bovine thyroids getting ground up into hamburger along with the neck meats, so theoretically it's possible to grow your own. I don't know how the dosage would be controlled, though.

    Same with insulin. In most animals the pancreas produces lots of different things along with insulin, but for mammals in the fetal stage it only produces insulin. In absolute life-or-death desperation, it could be possible to get your insulin that way, maybe from someone who raises pigs, but it wouldn't be pure enough to inject, you'd have to take it orally. And I don't know how to determine the dosage.