Organizing Theory & Artistry

Emergency Food Supply Planning continued. . . Male Versus Female Nutritional Needs.

"Dinner on the Final Night: Wabakimi Provincial Park, Ontario." Photo by OakleyOriginals. From the Flickr Creative Commons.

For those who just moved the clocks back one hour, how are you doing? I am still adjusting to daylight savings time but am really enjoying the “new” time. I purposely kept my alarm clock back one hour for the privilege of waking up each morning to “give” myself an extra hour of sleep.

Continuing our discussion of emergency food supplies . . . today we are going to combine the prior work we have done on nutritional requirements and grocery store supplies to try to create a 30-day emergency food plan for a family of 4.

This work has been more detailed and complex than I anticipated so I am not able to deliver the full plan to you today. However, I am going to share some of the interim research steps.

Even if you are not interested in creating an emergency food supply, I hope going through this exercise will enlighten you both in terms of how you might be able to stretch your food budget to save money and how to eat more healthily with minimal effort.

After writing my post on nutritional requirements, I found that I needed to add a few more details. In addition to knowing how many calories you need and the basics of a food pyramid, there are some specific quantities of various nutrients you need and some nutrients that you need to limit. What are these requirements? Interestingly, they are printed for us on many of our longer food labels, like those on cereal boxes. I never noticed them before now. Here is the section from our cereal box:

2,000 Calories 2,500 Calories
Total Fat <65 g <80g
Saturated Fat <20g <25g
Cholesterol <300 mg <300 mg
Sodium <2400 mg <2400 mg
Potassium 3,500 mg 3,500 mg
Total Carbohydrate 300g 375 g
Dietary Fiber 25 g 30g

 

Most of us know that we should limit our fat intake, particularly of saturated fat and trans fat. Most of us also know that too much cholesterol is not a good thing. Based on my own reading of food labels, it seems we don’t have to worry quite so much about fat and cholesterol because most food manufacturers have limited fat and cholesterol in their foods for us.

"breakfast: bunny in the hole." Photo by woodleywonderworks. From the Flickr Creative Commons.
But how many of us focus on three other critical areas . . . fiber intake, potassium intake and sodium?

The Mayo Clinic, citing recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, indicates that Men under 50 need 38g of fiber per day (even more than what is recommended on the cereal box!) and women under 50 need 25 grams. Men over 50 need 30 grams of fiber and women over 50 need 21 grams.

A recent study suggests that children 2 and older consume grams of fiber per day equal to their age plus 5. (For example, a 5 year old should consume 5+5=10 grams of fiber per day).

How much fiber does the typical American adult consume each day? About 14-15 grams or about half of what we should.

Salt content in food is something you are going to start hearing more and more about. The American Heart Association recommends all Americans limit sodium consumption to no more that 1500 mg a day. Overdosing on salt is something that is easy to do and is a condition that has almost no symptoms you can identify yourself. You might not know you are eating too much salt until you develop high blood pressure.

How much sodium does the average American consume each day? A whopping 3,712 mg! More than twice the recommended limit.

Potassium is a requirement I had only vaguely considered before this research project. Apparently we are supposed to aim to balance our potassium and sodium intake to maintain healthy blood pressure. Since sodium is added to so many foods for flavoring, that means you have to eat a LOT of potassium to even things out.

Finally, some nutritionists advise that what we need to look at is the overall ratio of foods in our diet with about 40-60% carbs, 20-30% fats and 10-15% protein.

Is it possible to plan an emergency food storage plan that complies with these health requiremens? We’ll sure try!

Here is an example of a nutritionally balanced daily meal plan in canned food emergency rations for a woman consuming a 2,000 calorie diet and a man consuming a 2,500 calorie diet.

Woman (2,000 Calorie diet) Man (2,500 Calorie diet)
Breakfast:
Total Cereal with nonfat powdered milk
1 20 oz can Dole pineapple chunks in juice?
Breakfast:
All Bran Bran Buds cereal with nonfat powdered milk
1 20 oz can Dole pineapple chunks in juice
Snack
1 Fiber One Oats ‘n Chocolate granola bar
Snack
2 oz raw cashews
Lunch
1 3 oz can StarKist solid white albacore tuna
with 1 Tbsp Best Foods Real Mayonnaise
on 4 Ryvita Rye and Oatbran Crispbread Crackers
2 5.5 oz cans low-sodium V8 juice
Lunch
2 3 oz cans StarKist solid white albacore tuna
with 2 Tbsp Best Foods Real Mayonnaise
on 4 Ryvita Rye and Oatbran Crispbread Crackers
2 5.5 oz cans low-sodium V8 juice
Snack
2 salt-free Quaker Rice Cakes with
4 T Skippy Super Chunk Peanut Butter
Snack
2 salt-free Quaker Rice Cakes with
4 T Skippy Super Chunk Peanut Butter
and ¼ cup raisins
Dinner
Campbell’s Low Sodium Chicken Noodle Soup
1 8oz can CVS Liquid Nutrition Vanilla Flavor
9 Hershey’s chocolate kisses
Dinner
Campbell’s Low Sodium Chicken Noodle Soup
1 8oz can CVS Liquid Nutrition Vanilla Flavor
9 Hershey’s chocolate kisses
Snack
1 half cup bag Brother’s freeze-dried Fuji Apple fruit crisps
Snack
1 half cup bag Brother’s freeze-dried Fuji Apple fruit crisps
Total Calories: 1999
Total Fat grams: 71.5
Saturated Fat grams: 19
Cholesterol: 94 mg
Sodium: 1593 mg
Potassium: 2197 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 245 grams
Dietary Fiber: 33 grams
Total Calories: 2479
Total Fat grams: 94.5
Saturated Fat grams: 23.5
Cholesterol: 139 mg
Sodium: 1852.5 mg
Potassium: 2937 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 257 grams
Dietary Fiber: 37 grams
% fat (est) = 20%
% protein (est) = 20%
% carbohydrates (est) = 60%
% fat (est) = 22%
% protein (est) =22%
% carbohydrates (est) = 56%

 
The male and female rations are mostly the same except that the man needs to add on about 500 more calories and 7 more grams of fiber, ideally without increasing the salt! So the man has a higher fiber breakfast cereal, double the portion of fish at lunch, adds raisins to his peanut butter rice cakes snack and swaps the granola bar for a higher calorie energy bar or a handful of unsalted nuts.

Hmmm….so despite best efforts, we are still low on potassium and carbohydrates and a smidge too high on sodium. But considering that fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t a realistic part of the emergency supply, I think we are doing fairly well.

I clearly have a lot more work to do to get a full 30-day meal supply with a greater variety of healthy foods that we eat often. I will continue the work.

In the meantime, please feel free to share your comments and suggestions! Do you count calories or the nutritional value of your own diet? What tools do you use to make this data-intensive work easier?