Food is Energy & Function
Calories in versus calories out. It’s a simple arithmetic problem people use to determine whether they gain or lose weight. While not completely and totally accurate (where those calories are coming from makes a difference) but in a pinch will get the job done. Next to managing water in a crisis, food concerns are a close second.
- How much to eat
- what to eat and
- where to get it
are the three key factors that need to be focused on.
1)How much to eat?
U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends men eat between 2,200 to 2,800 calories per day (3,000+ if active). Woman should eat around 1,800 to 2,200 per day (2,400+) if active. The active recommendations are very conservative. Traveling on foot, over a 6 hour days, carrying 30-50lbs of gear can burn upwards of 4000-6000 calories. That’s a huge gap to overcome. Assuming you haven’t fortified yourself somewhere, let 4000 calories per day be you dietary goal. This way days you make it and days you miss will hopefully average out over the long run.
2)What to eat?
All food consumed in a human body is basically broken down into the 3 macro-nutrients. They are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Each one serves as an energy source with different advantages and disadvantages. Carbohydrates and proteins each produce about 4 calories per gram, where fat produces 9 calories per gram. That doesn’t mean you should focus all your energy on getting fats into your diet, just that when utilized correctly fat produces more energy pound for pound by over double (for the body to utilize fat it has to use carbohydrates.)
Carbohydrates are the body’s go to source for energy. Readily available, easily utilized, and necessary in a multitude of bodily functions. They should be the part component of your diet (USDA 45%-65%). The downside is because they are converted so easily they need to be replaced constantly. Once they’re gone from the system the body will go after it’s own muscles for energy. Which brings us to the next macro-nutrient.
Protein is the building nutrient of the body. It doesn’t matter if your making muscle,hair,skin or anything else. Proteins are involved in the building process. You should try to consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight a day (USDA 10%-35%). This will ensure you have enough material to repair the damage constant exertion is placing on the body.
Fats are your friends. If you enjoy your brain functioning properly, organs staying in place, and absorbing nutrients then you need to keep your fat intake up (USDA 20%-35%). Fats only have a bad reputation for those with sedentary lifestyles. Something to keep in mind about fats is that for them to be converted properly in the body they require the presence of carbohydrates.
Consuming a mix of these 3 macro-nutrients is most important but doesn’t include all the vitamins and minerals also necessary for survival (as well as water).
3)Where to get it?
Where you can acquire food once again depends greatly on your surrounding environment (urban/rural/wilderness), tools available (weapons/farming appliances/can opener), and personal skills (hunting/trapping/farming). In an urban or suburban setting, you can forget finding fresh chicken breasts to eat. Scavenging for canned goods is a better option. Of course supermarkets and grocery stores make the best targets but most of those will have probably been picked clean in the early stages (sometimes even before the outbreak gets bad). Learn how to pick locks to get into and out of houses and apartments. These will be the most likely areas to hold canned goods. Read labels and avoid any canned good that appears to be swollen or bursting. They get that way of gas buildup from the breakdown of bacteria. Eating anything out of a can like that can lead to a potentially fatal disease called botulism.
Creating A Consistent Food Supply
If you’ve managed to secure some land away from the general populace (possibly with a nice strong fence) you might have the luxury of farming. Which is important because being away from civilization means being self-sufficient. Chickens give eggs and eventually meat. Vegetables can be cultivated. Nuts, beans and seeds can be grown and used for all sorts foods and oils. Learning how to cane food will allow you to preserve things for a much longer period of time. The downside of course is, lots of land can mean lots of areas for zombies to dwell and lots of work maintaining that area. Also the difficulty of finding water arises.
Being stuck in the wilderness can be both a blessing and a curse. Generally it will provide access to a greater range of available foods in a crisis, assuming you know how to hunt. Being on the move means you’re less likely to get caught unaware by zombies. One deer can provide enough meat to last a good while if you know how to properly dress it. Also making yourself aware of the different flora means knowing which planets are edible and which are not (start doing this now, not after the apocalypse). Of course there’s also the downside of having to hunt for you food, only having the resources immediately available to you, finding reliable water on the move, and no real secure shelter from the undead (maybe besides climbing a tree?) or wildlife.
Even in these given scenarios there is a lot of room for variation. The important part is realizing your dietary needs early on and taking steps to make sure you secure a good supply of food.