Let food be thy medicine

Have you ever heard the claim that as long as you exercise you can eat what you want? I have heard people say this time and time again and my response to these claims is: “You can, however, you cannot outrun a bad diet!” to which most people don’t know what to say. So why negate all the hard work with putting junk in the trunk? The reason why we do it is because many of us have a skewed relationship with food in that we use it as therapy, as a trophy, as a friend, or the worst of all… as a reward.  Our relationship with exercise is also broken in that we treat it as a punishment, we feel that once the exercise is completed we will have a free ticket to reward ourselves and what better way than with indulgent food? The idea that exercise might be a tool in obtaining health and food might be a tool in fueling this exercise and recovery is foreign to many.
Why do I care so much about watching what I eat even when I am putting in the work? Wouldn’t I want to relax a bit and gobble down a tub of ice-cream after a long hike? I would, it would be so much easier, but I know better. In a nutshell, I strongly believe that it matters what we eat regardless of how active or inactive we are.
When you take a sedentary, sick and overweight person, your first instinct is to point out that the reason they are sick and overweight is because they don’t move. But make that person move and they will not heal. They might lose a few pounds, but they might not because they will probably compensate by eating more of the wrong foods. Why do I think that’s the case? Because there are plenty of active people who still get sick. You might not have heard of Bob Harper’s – the host of the Biggest Looser – heart attack, or maybe you have – in any case, wouldn’t you expect that the person who helps other people get in shape, be himself a picture of health? I would. He looks fit and trim, he is active – how is it that he has almost died from a heart attack? I have one word for you – DIET or the lack of proper diet.
I’m pretty sure most of us know at least one fit, active person who on the outside looks like a walking and talking health encyclopedia, but it’s only when they suffer from a heart attack, a stroke or other physical manifestations of sickness that we see there is something wrong on the inside and exercise alone is not able to prevent it.
This is why I feel so strongly about fueling myself properly even when I know I’m putting in the work by moving my body. I want it to receive the best fuel there is for any activity I perform and reward it with the best fuel for recovery. I don’t believe in punishing my body by putting junk into it just so that I can have a momentary taste buds pleasure – yes, it’s true: junk food tastes good – the companies making it made damn sure of it. That’s why it’s important that we reclaim our taste buds and relearn to like to eat real food.
Here is an example of 2 meals, evening and morning that I had on my last overnight hike to Cape Broyle:
After hiking a measly 7.5k to the campsite I made a pasta meal with dehydrated mushrooms and sweet potatoes. This is a complete meal with plenty of protein and carbs.
This pot is half full, so even though it doesn’t look like much this is actually quite a bit of food. Depending on your exertion level and how much you ate prior to the hike you might follow it with a snack. I did have a Larabar as this meal was low on fats, so Larabar filled the gap just perfectly with about 10g of fat.
This is the pasta I use for my hiking trip meals and for flavoring I use 10g of this soup mix. The reason I use this particular pasta is because it’s made out of beans so it contains both carbs and protein – I do not need to worry about adding a protein source to this meal. I also like it for its simple ingredients: beans! And as a bonus, it is very lightweight and takes literally a couple minutes to cook, especially if you pre-soak it. The flavor mix is optional but highly recommended as it thickens up the dish and contains only real ingredients. If I am out of this soup I will make my own spice mix (any Mrs. Dash, pepper, turmeric, smoked paprika, sumac, etc) and add some nutritional yeast to thicken and to give the meal a cheasy vegan kick.

The following day for breakfast I served quick oats with a crumbled Larabar and some dried apple slices:

I used about 40-50g of quick oats for their quick cooking time. Ideally, I would have some steel cut oats, but that would require 20 minutes of cooking, so not ideal for the trail. I was out of my homemade Larabar so I simply used the store bought one, which worked out fine because this meal was missing some fat. You could add nuts or hemp seeds instead of Larabar for fat, you could also jazz it up with all sorts of dehydrated fruit thrown in there for flavor.

 

You might be wondering about the color of my oats – the beautiful yellowish color comes from this Raw Plant Protein Powder by Vivo. It’s entirely up to you if you decide to pump up the protein by adding protein powder or not. If you decide you want to, you have to be careful which protein powder you chose, because they are not created equal. I have been experimenting with a few different brands of plant based protein and this one is quite tasty. I also like Garden of Life protein powders.

 

And the ingredients, as well as the macros, are quite spectacular if you ask me.

And voilà! It’s that simple. Putting this together pre-hike did not take very much time out of my day – I simply measured the servings and put them in plastic baggies. It was just a matter of having the right stuff in my pantry.

I will also point out that if I am going on an overnight hike, where cooking a meal is required, I don’t believe in snacking in between. Let’s face it, I am not exerting myself enough to justify extra food in between meals – I simply make my meals nutritiously dense enough that I only get hungry when it’s time to eat. If by any chance my meal does not satisfy my hunger, I will follow it with a snack. And if I am going on a day hike I do take a snack just in case but intend not to eat it and I will eat regular meals at home before leaving and upon my return. Snacking gets a bad rep in my books.

Enough about food… After all I came along for the pictures…. and for the kiss-ass workout…. and for the wildlife…. and of course, there was fog.

 

This little precious baby bird was sitting right smack in the middle of the path! It was only by chance that he was not stepped on. Since I’m always with my head down looking at what I am stepping on (not keen on breaking a leg over sticking out roots) as I was approaching him I yelled out “OMG there is a bird on the path”, which I followed with “I’ll be here a moment”… After all, I came to take pictures….

 

He seemed to have been injured because he would not budge one bit. We gently relocated him (without actually touching him) so that somebody else would not step on him. Needless to say, on the way back the following day he was nowhere to be found and I don’t want to contemplate what might have happened to him.

It’s all about that light – it can make the least exciting subject look spectacular and fetching.

 

As usual, fog did not disappoint, but there are still ways to make it work 🙂
And this is how we hydrate – never carry all the water that you’ll need, there is plenty around you that you can make drinkable 🙂

Maybe it’s just me, but is he checking his watch as if to say “Hurry up!” 😉 ?

 

Speaking of making food work for you instead of against you – here is a little video for you. She touches on some very important points – definitely worth a watch.

 

2 Replies to “Let food be thy medicine”

  1. So helpful! I’ve been struggling with nutrition to power me through my workouts and hiking so I really appreciate this!

  2. Hey Carrie! Thanks for your comment! Glad you got some inspiration out of this post. I find simplicity always works for me.

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