Managing your mental health condition during a disaster

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Managing your mental health condition during a disaster

Mental health — Learn how to manage your mental health condition during a disaster.

A natural disaster, widespread disease outbreak or other emergency can cause mental health issues for those who live through the trauma. But what if you're already coping with a mental health problem and disaster strikes? How do you manage your mental health condition if health care services and community resources are disrupted, whether for days or even weeks?

Here are some strategies to guide your management of a mental health condition during a disaster.

Consider carbs in context

If your meal plan is based on carbohydrate counting, food labels become an essential tool for meal planning. Look at the grams of total carbohydrate — which includes sugar, complex carbohydrate and fiber — rather than only the grams of sugar. If you zero in on sugar content, you could miss out on nutritious foods naturally high in sugar, such as fruit and milk. And you might overdo foods with no natural or added sugar but plenty of carbohydrate, such as certain cereals and grains.

Pay special attention to high-fiber foods. Although the grams of sugar and fiber are counted as part of the grams of total carbohydrate, the count can sometimes be misleading. If a food has 5 grams or more fiber in a serving, the American Diabetes Association recommends subtracting the fiber grams from the total grams of carbohydrate for a more accurate estimate of the product's carbohydrate content.

Beware of fat-free products

Per gram, fat has more than twice the calories of carbohydrate or protein. If you're trying to lose weight, fat-free foods might sound like just the ticket. But don't be fooled by "fat-free" food labels. Fat-free foods can have more carbohydrates and contain nearly as many calories as the standard version of the same food.

The lesson? You guessed it. Compare food labels for fat-free and standard products carefully before you make a decision. And remember that the amount of total fat listed on a food label doesn't tell the whole story. Look for a breakdown of types of fat. Although still high in calories, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol and protect your heart. Saturated and trans fats raise your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.

Do the math

The serving sizes listed on food labels may be different than the serving sizes in your meal plan. If you eat twice the serving size listed on the label, you also double the calories, fat, carbohydrate and sodium.

The same goes for the Percent (%) Daily Value listed on food labels. This percentage, which is based on a 2,000-calorie diet, helps you gauge how much of a specific nutrient one serving of food contains compared with recommendations for the whole day. If your doctor or registered dietitian recommends more or less than 2,000 calories a day, you may need to adjust the percentage accordingly — or simply use the percentage as a general frame of reference.

Last Updated: 03/09/2007
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