Winter Storm Nutrition Tips

Being stuck indoors doesn't have to mean pizza and beer. Here are a nutritionist's tips for staying healthy during a winter storm.

grocery lines SandyHurricane Sandy’s grocery store lines. Photo by Allison Knott

Hopefully you made it to the store and have all your supplies. Many of you did, based on the above photo.

Beth Klos, a senior nutritionist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has some great tips for staying healthy during a storm and how to keep the food you bought safe in case of a power outage. Here are her suggestions:

Make hydration a priority
In an emergency, having enough water for drinking and cooking is crucial for well-being. This is especially important for pregnant women, the elderly, or anyone who is sick.  Stock enough bottled water for a week.

Stock up on nutritious shelf-stable foods
Many shelf-stable foods are also nutritious and can include fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and even dairy products.

  • Look for fruits and vegetables that do not need to be refrigerated, like bananas, apples, dried cranberries, tomatoes, eggplant, and any canned variety.  The vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies can boost energy and during this difficult time.
  • Find proteins that have a shelf-life, like canned tuna fish or chicken, nuts and nut butters, and protein bars.
  • Take advantage of whole grains and other healthy starches because they stay fresh for a long time and do not require refrigeration.  Buy whole grain crackers, sweet potatoes, canned corn and peas, and garbanzo beans to stay satisfied and healthy during the storm.

Keep your food safe
The best way to prevent foodborne illness during the storm is to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed.

  • When preparing for the storm, fill the freezer with containers of water or perishables from the refrigerator. A full freezer will keep food safe for two days, as long as you don’t open the door while the power is out.
  • A refrigerator will keep food at the safe temperature (40 degrees or less) for only four hours, even with the door closed.  Harmful bacteria thrive when food rises 41 degrees or higher, so food is unsafe to eat once it’s been in this “danger zone” for two hours.  If you’re in doubt about whether your food is safe, it is best to just throw it out.

Have food-related emergency supplies handy
Having a thermometer for the refrigerator and freezer, block ice or dry ice, disinfecting wipes, disposable dining ware, and a manual can opener can help keep your food safe and you healthy this storm season.

Have other tips you’d like to share? Tell us how you stay healthy in a storm.