15 – Eating Healthy While Traveling

Eating on the move can be challenge for the most experienced traveler. Eating healthy can be an even greater challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. All it takes is a little planning and making good decisions on what to pack and, more importantly, what not to pack.

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Before we get into it too much, we need to cover some basics of calories. The first thing you need to know is your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. My BMR, for example, is 1834 calories per day. This is how many calories you need to consume in order to exist, with no activity. While this is good to know, the more important information is total calories you need to take in per day, with activity. You can use a simple calorie calculator in order to get that number. Again, for me, and with moderate activity, I need to take in 2774 calories in order to maintain my weight. I am not looking to lose weight, or gain it.

So why are these numbers important? Because people, especially Americans, tend to binge eat for any reason they can think of. Holiday meals and cookouts, weddings, parties,  and yes even traveling. In the above example I chose moderate activity because while Overlanding we spend a lot of time sitting behind the wheel of our chosen vehicles. We also tend to “snack” while driving or drink sugary drinks, or other such habits that most of us have. We generally do this without even thinking about it. However, when in camp, or on a trail we expend more calories from stress, physical exertion, and generally just moving more. A moderate setting on the calculator is good middle ground for Overlanders.

Stay away from truck stops restaurants. Looking at the menu for a common variety truck stop restaurant you can see that a single breakfast can be nearly 1800 calories and a double everything burger can almost 2300 calories! That’s not even counting the fries. I do plan to eat more than once a day.

With my goal of 2774 calories per day, that equal out to ~924 calories over three meals, or 850 calories per meal with 224 calories left over for snacks, and I do love my snacks. I understand that 850 calories doesn’t sound like a lot, so lets look at what I can get in that range. Remember, your actual numbers will vary, and these are meant to be prepared at a camp site.

Breakfast:

  • 2 Large Fried Eggs (180 Calories)
  • 1 Slice of Cheese (113 Calories)
  • 2 Slices of Wheat Toast w/ butter (230 calories)
  • 3 Slices of Fried Bacon (129 Calories)
  • 2 Cups of Coffee w/ sugar (58 Calories)
  • 1 Large Banana (121 Calories)

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? The cheese you ask? I really like breakfast sandwiches. They are easy to make and don’t really require dishes beyond a paper towel. The great thing is all this comes in at only 831 calories. This is great because around mid morning I like to have a breakfast cereal bar as a snack. The calories for these vary by brand name, but are generally around 120. Combined with the breakfast, this puts me around 951 so far for the day. A bit over the 924 per meal, but the day isn’t over yet.

Lunch:  

  • 4 Chicken Legs, Fried, (olive oil instead of flour) (480 Calories)
  • 1 Cup Potato Salad (357 Calories)
  • 1 Cup of Coffee w/ sugar (29 Calories)

That brings me to 866 calories for lunch, and 1871 for the day. This leaves me with 957 calories for the rest of the day. Around mid afternoon I wil probably snack again, usually an apple (95 Calories), which brings me to 1966 for the day. I am getting close to that target number with only 808 calories left.

Dinner:

  • 1 Burger (329 Calories)
  • A small bag of plain lays potato chips (160 Calories)
  • 2 Cups of Coffee w/ sugar (58 Calories)

I like to eat a light dinner as it helps me sleep better. Seriously, one of the worst things you can do for health is to eat a massive meal and then go straight to bed. Your body has nothing to do with all of the calories you just gave it except to store it as fat. This also brings me in 261 calories under my target of 2774 calories. This gives me ample room for  more healthy snacks such as apples or bananas. Granted, storing produce can be tricky as all get out, but again it can be done with some basic planning. I will save that for another post.

As you can see I am by no means starving myself. I am also not gorging myself by eating 1500 calories in a single meal. You will also notice that I left out sugary sodas. I don’t bring them camping. I just dont. Mt Dew is 170 calories for a single can, and I know me. If I bring Mt Dew along, I am going to drink it. All of it. Probably in a day or two. I do drink a lot of water when traveling. While this is always good advice, it is even more important as you become more remote. While it is rare that people die of dehydration these days, it happens often enough that I would rather maintain my hydration level while walking around the woods and crawling over boulders.

With a little planning and preparation you can create meals plans for your next adventure. This will go a long way in saving you money on items you would otherwise end up not using, saving space as you only pack what you need, and saving your sanity as you don’t have to try to think of what to make at the end of a long day and your just too damn hangry to care how much you eat as long as it is soon.

I hope this post has given you something to think about and who knows, maybe you will even learn something about yourself.

Until Next Time …

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4 thoughts on “15 – Eating Healthy While Traveling

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about food as of late. Transporting food is always a challenge because you have to keep it dry or cold or both. Do you have any advice for transporting something like eggs? I’ve seen people pre-crack them into Tupperware. I’ve taken to pre-packing servings so it is easier for us to reach in and just grab a bag of minute rice and know we have two servings, or a bag of add-water soup and know they have two cups worth (one serving).

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    1. Pre-Cracking eggs is a great solution, but it isn’t always the best solution. This is especially true if you put say an entire dozen into a single container. The egg whites will all mix together. By the end you will have to yolks and enough whites for three to five eggs. Using much smaller containers for say two to three eggs each works well. However, then you have to store a lot of small containers that take up valuable space. While have yet to try it, I am looking for something like the following to test on a trip: https://www.amazon.com/Stansport-Camping-12-Egg-Container/dp/B0018E57PA

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