Top 10 things you can do to help a loved one or friend who is in prison
#5 Help Coordinate A Healthy Prison Diet
The food in prison is a discussion in and of itself. Eating healthy is a challenge, particularly considering the significant amount of exercise that an inmate typically undertakes and the resulting daily calorie requirements. Its pretty rare for any inmate in prison to be obese. Supplementing the BOP provided meals with items purchased from commissary is typical; however, the inability to research nutritional information in order to eat healthy with pre-packaged items can unknowingly lead to poor overall nutrition.
Some assistance with research from the outside can make a big difference, particularly if your friend or loved one is dealing with high cholesterol or blood pressure issues. Most of the food provided by the prison system is processed and full of sodium and preservatives. Think of bologna and hot dogs for example, along with an unusual reddish-colored meat substance called “turkey-ham” which often appears on the menu. There are definitely some meals served by the BOP that are tasty and more desirable, like lasagna, spaghetti and a variety of soups. Overall, however, it is difficult to get enough high quality food particularly considering the intake requirements.
Food purchased from commissary can make up a significant portion of an inmate’s diet, and a popular meal alternative is packaged tuna and mackerel made with rice as one example. Unfortunately, people don’t realize that these types of fish contain high levels of mercury, and that they should not be eaten everyday. In the absence of any ability to research these issues to determine what is recommended for safe consumption, inmates may unknowingly consume dangerous levels while thinking that they are eating healthy. Moreover, there is a significant amount of imitation sweetener in various items that are sold to inmates, which prevents the distribution of real sugar which can be used for undesirable purposes. These fake sweeteners can be unhealthy in the quantities that are consumed.
You can help your friend or loved one by downloading a copy of the commissary form from the prison where they are confined, or have them – Experiment with what is available and create some unique recipes to share with him or her, utilizing nothing more than a microwave and hot water. Research the ingredients and packaged items to see if there are any healthy limits or recommendations that should be considered, and try to create meal items that minimize sodium, preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients where possible. One way I attempt this is by taking a package of Ramon noodles for example, eliminating the powdered chicken flavoring that comes with it, and adding some chili sauce along with some pre-packaged chicken. I assume that most of the sodium is in the packet of fake chicken powder flavoring, so eliminating it leaves a pretty tasty meal that seems somewhat nutritious.
In conclusion, coming up with a variety of healthy meals from the commissary items available that is sensitive to the inmate’s commissary budget will prove very helpful. It is difficult and expensive to experiment like this while incarcerated, so accomplishing that process at home and sending in some creative ideas will be a welcome and thoughtful gift!