Vanlife cooking and nutrition…
There are lots of ways to eat and drink while on the road, you could eat healthy, unhealthy, organic, dairy free, vegetarian, protein based, vegan…..the list goes on. Everyone has their reasons why they choose to eat the way they do that’s why I’m not going to mention what to eat on the road. As an ex-personal trainer, I would like to explain what the body needs and the reasons behind this, then you could decide how you’re going to include the nutrients your body needs to function on a daily bases.
3 minutes, 3 days, 3 weeks…..On most cases, without training or circumstances, our body will start to die if we don’t have oxygen in 3 minutes no water for 3 days or no food for 3 weeks. It’s vital that you don’t get into a situation where you don’t have oxygen or water to hand…..sound silly but imagine you go for a hike and get injured and stranded without water and you have no water for 3 days….extreme as it sounds but it’s happened so be prepared.
My van only has 2 gas hobs that runs off a refillable LPG gas bottle, I’m 2 months into my journey and I’ve only used half of my 7.5kg. I’ve learnt to cook pretty well on just these 2 hobs, I’ve made mini pizzas by using a frying pan with lid, protein pancakes after my morning workout, made toast on the morning with poached eggs…the list goes on. I also have a portable cooker which I use outside when I cook smelly things like fish I’ve caught in the river, don’t want a smelly van now do I.
I still stick to eating three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner but I do avoid eating after 7pm and I also sometimes miss lunch if I’m not feeling hungry, I also drink more water now with the weather a lot warmer than back at home, I always have at least 6x 2litre bottles in the van.
Linking to my post about vanlife fitness I try to burn off more or the same amount of calories I consume a day to avoid putting on weight, I don’t have scales in my van but I’m guessing I’m slightly less weight as I’m exercising more and drinking more water…..but I do like trying the beers suggested in the book I’m reading “
The following is how your body uses these types of food:
Protein: The body needs protein for healthy cells and muscles. Protein provides energy in about the same quantities as carbohydrates. Traditional protein-rich foods include meat, chicken, fish, eggs and milk, but health wise you’re better getting your proteins from natural whole-food sources such as pulses, nuts and again oats.
Carbohydrates: These fall into two groups – simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are known as sugars. They will provide energy but they won’t last. I would have these if I was taking part in physical activity and needed energy fast.
Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta, root vegetables, wholegrain cereals, nuts and my favourite oats. These are easy to digest and provide speedy, longer lasting source of energy. Great if you’re going for a hike or a long walk to explore a large city.
Fats: Too much fatty food can be bad for you, but fat provides twice as much energy as carbohydrate or protein. There are good fats and bad fats, it’s important to know the difference so I’ll keep it simple. Saturated fats are the bad ones and try to avoid these. These raise your blood cholesterol and can lead to heart disease. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. These fats will go solid and white at room temperature.
Mono and Poly-unsaturated fats, on the other hand, lower your total cholesterol and can be found in foods like nuts, avocados, salmon and olive oil. These fats will stay runny at room temperature. Good fats are good for lowering cholesterol, essential for the immune function, lubricate the joints and provide us with the basics for healthy hair, nails and skin.
Vitamins: These are compounds that are required in tiny quantities for metabolism and general good health. These can found in natural whole food sources such as green vegetables and good fruits.
Salt: Too much salt is very bad for you, too little and you can die. Salt is an electrolyte – a mineral that can dissolve in water and carry electrical charges. Pure water doesn’t conduct electricity, salty water does. Your body needs tiny charges or electricity for all sorts of purposes, including carrying messages along your nerves and controlling your heartbeat. When you’re travelling in a hot climate you sweat and sweat contains a high percentage of salt from the body. You will probably get enough salt from vanlife foods you’re already eating but if you get any signs like cramps, dizziness or nausea try eating something salty like nuts or sprinkle salt on your next meal.
There’s a lot of information to take in here but I hope I’ve mentioned something you didn’t know about nutrition and hope it helps you decide what you buy, find, catch when you go shopping for Vanlife on the road or just travelling.