A year on the road has taught me valuable lessons about the web of relationships connecting food, energy, my body, and the outdoors. When you spend as much time adventuring outdoors as I do, you really start to pay attention to your body’s needs – from hydration and staying energized to refueling after playing outside.
We don’t live by any diets or nutrition fads; our lifestyle revolves around making the healthy choices because it makes us feel good, and enjoying treats in moderation when we want. We believe in supporting local farmers, cooking most of our own meals, and focusing on energizing food that will help us in our pursuit towards living active lives.
One of my favorite experiences during my yearlong road trip has been visiting farmers markets from the desert in Joshua Tree to the breezy streets of Squamish in Canada. Whenever Niko and I have access to a farmers market, we stock up on locally grown produce like sweet corn, green beans, massive heads of cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and everything in between. Filling our fridge and fruit bowl with fresh, whole food makes it easy to make healthy decisions for meals and snacking.
It’s all about what you offer yourself: If my shelves are full of Cheez-Its and pudding cups, I’m totally going to fill my belly with that – but if my options are apples, granola bars, and carrot sticks, I can’t go wrong when choosing snacks!
While Niko and I try to put as many whole foods in our diet as possible, our on-the-go lifestyle simply makes it impossible to do everything yourself. When we add “processed” products into our groceries list, we prefer to know we’re eating food that lives up to our standards of healthy eating.
One of the easiest ways to feel good about my grocery choices is to simply make sure to read the label. There are a few key things to look for and avoid when trying to weed out unhealthy packaged food:
- Read the ingredients list. If you can’t pronounce it, or recognize what it is, consider that a major red flag.
- Lots of mystery chemical food colorings? No thanks. Some of the worst offenders include red #40, yellow #5, and blue #2.
- Evaluate the two S’s: Sodium and Sugar.
- You know I’m all about moderation, and refuse to live my life by restricting my diet to number counts, but even I can’t deny that foods wit excessive amounts of sodium and/or sugar shouldn’t be everyday staples.
- If you’re on a budget like I am, and considering going for the “cheaper brand,” compare ingredients lists with pricier options. Sometimes, the junk they put in the less expensive brand just isn’t worth a 60¢ savings.
So what do we seek in packaged foods? We’re all about products that have a short ingredients list – which indicates it’s all food and no filler. Because ingredients are ordered by prominence, try to choose packaged food where ingredients like syrup and sugar are lower on the list than the good stuff. Example: Nature Valley’s Roasted Nut Crunch granola bars.
Here’s the ingredients list: “Almonds, Roasted Peanuts, Sunflower Seeds, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Cashew Flour, Sesame Seed.”
What’s this protein-packed snack made of? Lots of seeds and nuts you know are great for you: almond, peanuts, and (one of my all-time favorites) sunflower seeds. Cashew flour and sesame seeds may come behind sugar and salt, but that just makes sense proportionally (unless you’re really into sesame seeds). The ingredients list is short, and I recognize every single thing that’s put into my granola bars – perfect.
Another key element in our quest to staying healthy while traveling is not eating out too often. There’s no denying that we are shameless about splurging on a box of TimBits after a long day of climbing in Squamish, but we try to limit ourselves to only eating at restaurants a few times a week. By preparing our own meals, and filling our packs with snacks we’ve carefully selected at the grocery store, we ensure that we know exactly what we’re consuming. Those donut holes may be delicious, but let’s face it: we have no idea what’s actually in them. I know it’s bad, but I’m sure it’s way worse than I could imagine. Even though we don’t exactly have a proper kitchen, Niko and I try to DIY all our favorite meals, from coconut curry rice to pumpkin spice lattes.
When it comes to living an adventurous, energized lifestyle, eating healthy is a priority. Spending full days out hiking, climbing, and exploring outdoors requires me to fill belly with nutritious food that will keep me fueled for whatever nature throws my way. As a climber, it’s also important to me to keep my body in good shape to help me excel on the rocks. Focusing on whole foods, cooking my own meals, and choosing wisely when buying prepared foods is what keeps Niko and I ready for adventure.* Compensation for this content was provided by Nature Valley. Opinions expressed here are strictly my own.