If you grew up in my family, you’d be used to taking an annual camping trip – sometimes two – and spending time in the great outdoors each summer.
Yes, we’ve always gone old-school and slept in tents 😉
This year we had some family visiting from out of town, so we all decided to do one large camping trip with some of my aunts, uncles and cousins. We spent four days in Algonquin park soaking up the beautiful scenery and reconnecting with nature. This park really is one of my favourite places on earth.
We explored, we laughed and we ate. Oh boy, we definitely ate.
I don’t know if it’s a combination of the fresh air, the relaxed vibe, and the company, but every time I go camping, I find myself snacking from sunrise to sun-down every single day. This time I came prepared for it. Here’s how.
6 Ways to Stay Healthy While Camping
It might sound seriously impossible to making healthy choices while you’re camping, but there are ways to set yourself up for success. It may require a bit more preparation, but I promise you that it’ll be worth it. Plus, your body will reward you with health and energy throughout your trip!
1 | Plan, plan, plan… and plan some more
A couple days before camping, I opened up an excel spreadsheet (because I’m an excel nerd) and planned my food for the next four days: Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. Partly because I have that “type A” personality, but also because I wanted to make sure I had lots of healthy options. When I’m camping I eat all. day. long. I needed to make sure I had enough snacks to keep me from stealing someone else’s junk food. While I didn’t stick to the specific plan I outlined (gotta have some spontaneity!), it helped me prepare the right amount of food for meals and snacks.
When you’re planning your camping meals, think about foods that are portable, less perishable, and easy to eat/make. Chances are you won’t have more than 1 or 2 pots/pans for each meal, so choose your meals wisely. Plan according to the day’s activities (if applicable), and eat things that are more perishable first (in case you forget to get ice for your cooler…).
2 | Food prep & Homemade snacks
The day before leaving, I spent a good chunk of time in the kitchen. I like making my own recipes instead of buying pre-made products at the grocery store, so of course it took me much longer… but that’s just my preference. Before camping, I committed to making: hummus (my recipe that was published in Holl & Lane), veggie burgers, granola, vegan brownies (heck yes and they were bomb!), breakfast cookies, roasted chickpeas, and a red cabbage & carrot salad (coming soon to the blog!). So yes, you can see how I was in the kitchen for a good chunk of the day.
Dedicating time to food prep is so rewarding. By making your own foods, you’re less likely to snack on things that aren’t yours. I mean, how could I eat someone’s chocolate bar over my vegan brownies? And if I’m on the go, I have no excuse – breakfast cookies, granola and roasted chickpeas are all at my fingertips. Plus, they’re all fresh, with minimal ingredients, no refined sugars, and I know what went into them. Preparing your own foods is a great way to steer clear of hidden sugars, colour and flavour additives, and more.
3 | Buy lots of vegetables and pre-wash & cut
This sort of falls under food prep, but it’s a good idea to plan out what veggies you want to bring, and then pre-wash/pre-cut them. When everyone else around you is throwing hamburgers on the grill, the last thing you want to do is sit at the picnic table and spend 10 minutes chopping and washing your vegetables. You may not even have access to particularly clean water, so it’s best to do this step at home. Save time, and socialize instead!
4 | Fruit is a wonderful thing
On a regular basis I tend to eat fruit in my smoothies, but when I’m camping I love to pack fruit for snacking. If you’re heading on a hike or going to the beach for the day, fruit is hydrating and energizing – plus it means minimal garbage. On our trip, we packed apples, pears and bananas for snacking, and I brought some raspberries and blueberries to top my granola in the mornings. Again, we pre-washed the fruit as well.
5 | Move your body every single day
I don’t necessarily mean traditional exercise. Oftentimes camp grounds have designated hiking trails, or lookouts. If you’re not into hiking, why not rent a canoe or kayak and explore the lake? It’s easy to get some exercise in each day. As much as camping is about taking a vacation, we can’t forget to keep our bodies moving! Explore. Get out there. Do some beach yoga. Just keep moving and you’ll feel great.
6 | Drink lots of water. Then drink more water.
If you’re lucky enough to experience a sunshine-filled camping trip, chances are your body isn’t used to so much sun exposure. In addition to lathering up with a great natural sunscreen, make sure you’re drinking enough water. This is especially important if you’re planning to enjoy a few alcoholic drinks as well. On a normal day, we should be consuming about 2L (1/2 a gallon) of water per day. If you’re in the sun, sweating, or moving around, make sure that you’re keeping yourself properly hydrated. Pack enough water bottles if you’re going on a hike, and make sure you always have one with you at the campsite.
If you find yourself sweating intensely, or going on very long and challenging hikes, it may be a good idea to pack an electrolyte-filled drink. I’m not talking about Gatorade and other sports drinks with tons of added sugars, additives and artificial colouring. Find one that has relatively clean ingredients and isn’t hiding anything nasty. Here’s a great recipe to make your own.
And there you have it! If you’re planning a healthy camping trip I hope that you’re able to take some of these into account. I know it made my trip much easier. The trick is a little bit of planning ahead, and once that’s done, the rest of the trip is smooth sailing!