Avoiding a Food Emergency

March 25th, 2015

It may seem as though we live in a land of plenty.

Everywhere you look there are vending machines, restaurants and stores offering an endless assortment of quick and cheap snacks and meals. And yet, the reality is every day most Americans live in a constant state of emergency. Either they skip breakfast or they put themselves at the mercy of the local coffee chain feeding them high-sugar coffees and donuts or muffins or scones (which sound like a French health food but are really giant sugar cookies). And then, at work, there are bowls of candy and vending machines full of soda and on the way home, there are fast food restaurants and convenience stores luring you in. We live in a toxic nutritional wasteland where finding real, whole, fresh food is difficult if not impossible for most people.

What is a food emergency? When your blood sugar starts to drop, you are hard-wired to eat anything (and everything) in sight. To think you can use willpower to control your hunger or cravings contradicts the science of how your brain controls your behavior. The more willpower you use, the more it backfires, eventually. You find yourself automatically overeating and bingeing or just eating whatever happens to be in front of you.

But there is a solution, a simple, practical idea that most of us never think about: planning and bringing food with us.

If you were a type 1 diabetic, you would not leave the house without your insulin syringe or a packet of sugar. If you did, your life would be at risk. If you had a severe bee or peanut allergy, you wouldn’t go anywhere without your EpiPen. One sniff of peanut dust and you could die without your protection.

While you may not die in an hour, you will get sick and fat and live a shorter, poorer life if you regularly find yourself in a food emergency. You will repeatedly choose poor quality, high sugar, refined foods and eat more than you need.

Emergency Life Pack – Your Food Safety Net

That is why I recommend that everyone create an emergency life pack, a food safety net. Each person has to find their favorite things to include, and the choices are almost infinite. You need to stock your home, your travel bag or purse, your car and your workplace with key rations for any food emergency.

These are just ideas and you can innovate, but make sure you include food with good-quality protein and fats that are also low in sugar.

Things That Last Forever:

– Canned wild salmon or sardines
– Flax or seed crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers)
Jerky (bison, grass-fed beef, or turkey)
– Salmon jerky
Nuts and seeds
Nut butter (almond, pecan, macadamia nut)
Coconut butter (Artisana is great)
– Whole or raw food protein bars (LÄRABAR is one of my favorites)
Artichoke hearts
– Roasted red peppers

Easy-To-Prepare On-the-Go Snacks:

Garbanzo beans with olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt
– Hard-boiled omega-3 eggs
– Hummus (Try Wild Garden single-serve packets that last a long time)
– Cut-up carrots, cucumbers, peppers and celery in Ziploc baggies
– Apple or pear


Dark chocolate (70%)
– Dried figs

Photo credit: Mark Hyman

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Dr. Mark HymanMark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician, an eight-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and was a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, Today Show, CNN, and The View, Katie and The Dr. Oz Show.

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