We have learned so much about ourselves, our neighbors and our community in the past few weeks. Preparing for, enduring and now recovering from the biggest hurricane to hit Southwest Florida in over 50 years, has left all of us are feeling drained, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Although we are exhausted, and many of us are still without power, our true courage has been revealed. Our ability to rise up, to rebuild and to come together as a community and to not let fear overtake us, but to instead find our courage deep down and start over. It has been amazing to witness the love our Naples community has. I feel truly blessed to call Naples home.
In these time of stress, where worry and anxiety take over most of our thoughts, it can be difficult to keep your diet on track. My husband and I evacuated with thousands of others from our state, and the availability of healthy snacks on the road was slim. We stopped when we could to fill up on gas (this proved to be difficult due to the gas shortage), and stocked up on water, black coffee, and snacks. The healthy snack options available at a gas station are sad. Everything is full of sugar, chemicals, and additives. We were lucky to find some unsalted pistachios, packed with protein and nutrients to hold us over.
Luckily, I was able to pack a few snacks to take with us during the evacuation. I had a cooler full of green juice, lemon water, grapes and berries. This carried us through the first half of our 17 hour drive to Georgia. Then we worked our way through homemade trail mix, Kind Bars, and Lara Bars. Although eating pre- package bars is not ideal, we made sure to consume bars that were gluten free, dairy free, and contained minimal ingredients.
We stayed in Georgia for seven days at Airbnbs, and although we were able to make coffee and tea, we did not have access to a kitchen. Seven days without a kitchen! I was too shell shocked from the hurricane heading directly toward our house to even fathom the no kitchen concept. Turns out, I am a very resourceful nutritionist! We had packed our greens and meal replacement shakes to help keep us in some kind of routine. It was difficult to find routine, meal plan or even think about where our food was coming from during this stressful time. I have to admit, I’m a stress non-eater. I’m the complete opposite of a stress eater, I legit do not eat when I am stressed. When the weather channel tells you that the eye of a category 4 hurricane is coming right for your town, and your house will most likely be under 10-15 feet of water after the storm surge, there is stress. The first few days of our evacuation I could only eat one meal a day, I was glued to the news. Not eating is just as bad as over eating; both are emotional responses to stress.
When we did eat, it was either a gluten free muffin at the local coffee shop or Mexican food. Turns out, Atlanta has wonderful tacos! Mexican food and tacos happen to be my absolute favorite, but after seven consecutive days of Mexican we were ready for a change. We tried to keep it healthy with lots of greens, fresh salsa, local chicken and loads of avocado.
I received several messages from clients during this time about how difficult it was to eat healthy on the road, especially with the added stress of the hurricane. I completely agree! Being thrust out of your home, and onto the road with thousands of others in search of water, food and gas was overwhelming. My biggest piece of advice when traveling is to always bring snacks. Always have bars, protein powder, or something you can use as a meal replacement if you are unable to find something healthy to eat. When dining out, think about fueling your body, not your emotions. When building your meal consider: greens, protein, fat and fiber. Fuel your body with nutrient dense foods. An example would be a large green salad with 4 oz grilled chicken, 1 avocado and an olive oil lemon dressing. Whenever you eat, at home or on the road, think about eating clean, with minimal ingredients, and fueling your body -- after all you are what you eat!