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November 28, 1999

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Cypress, California, USA:

My 6 year old granddaughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 2 years ago. We have to send an earthquake preparedness kit to keep at school. We know what insulin supplies she might need in case of a disaster and have packed that for her. What kind of non-perishable foods should we pack and how much? The school suggests no salty foods but so many of the non-perishable foods are processed with lots of salt. Can you give some ideas about what kinds of foods to pack her?

Answer:

It’s good to hear that the schools have gone beyond the “duck and cover” training I got as a child! As you decide what to put in your granddaughter’s earthquake preparedness kit for school, consider the things she normally likes to eat. I’m sure the reason that school officials counsel against too much salt is due to the potential need to rely on bottled water in the first hours and perhaps days after a quake. Unnecessary thirst would not be helpful if water were in short supply.

As for the foods to include, she will need all the same types of foods she needs now: carbohydrate foods (starches and sugars) to keep food and insulin in balance, protein and fat for more complete nutrition and to satisfy hunger. Look for packaged foods at the grocery store that have a long shelf life (check the expiration date — it should be after the end of the school year), do not require refrigeration, and provide a mixture of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Crackers, nuts and nut butters, fruit leather, dried fruit, small pop-top cans of tuna, and so on. You might also go to a sporting goods store that stocks backpacking equipment. They have many products that are compact, nutritious and have a long shelf life due to special air-free packaging.

Don’t forget to put in some candy and boxed juice for hypos, blood glucose testing equipment (visually-read strips and a lancing device and lancets if you don’t have an extra meter you can leave at school), urine ketones test strips, and water — unless the school has made proper provisions for that.

BB