Surviving Summer Camp Outs

gut health healthy living nutrition Aug 10, 2019

One of my favorite things about summer is being outside!

Whether its running on the local trail, bike riding at park, or just hanging out at the pool with the kids - I love all things summer including summer grilling!

Summer provides so many great opportunities to get moving.

In fact, hiking on a flat trail is equivalent to walking on the treadmill at a three percent incline (and we all know that walking is good for our health). Exercising (or just hanging out) outside has mental health benefits that including reducing stress. 

While time spent outdoors can improve our health in several ways, it may make it harder to choose healthy options at mealtime.

Whether your camping in your own backyard or headed to a state campsite, packing food to keep all your campers healthy and energized takes a little bite of planning.

‚ÄčOur favorite thing is grilling out during the long, warm summer months. 

Having fun when it comes to grilling goes beyond hamburgers and hotdogs!

Summer is the perfect time to think outside the box! 

Veggie loaded kabobs are always popular at our house.  They provide tons of variations, they are super portable, and kids love to eat anything on a stick! Best of all . . . no dishes - wrap those babies up in some foil and you are good to go on the go!

Hot dogs and s’mores over the open fire. Sports drinks, candy bars, salami sticks, and chili pie — those go to favorite campout goodies.

Let's be honest, camping food is right up there with carnival food!! 

But let's be honest, it's often packed with sugar, sodium, and preservatives, which really doesn't fit when you're trying to fuel you active body. 

Luckily, it is possible to avoid nutritional pitfalls on the trail with a little plan and a few healthy swaps: 

>>> You've Got to Plan It Out - Before going on a trip, it’s important to write out a menu for each and every meal you’ll be eating, including snack time! These choices are final once you hit the trail, so it’s crucial to be prepared ahead of time.

>>> Tips for Camping

  • Pack your cooler with lots of fresh fruits and veggies
  • Pack produce that lasts and doesn’t bruise easily, such as oranges, apples, carrots, and celery, and place produce in hard-sided containers
  • Plain yogurt and fresh eggs are good sources of protein
  • Cheese, cold cuts, cooked quinoa, hummus, and homemade veggie burgers can also be stored in a cooler 
  • Freeze drinks, other liquids, and any freeze-able foods several days in advance of a trip so they can double as ice packs
  • Plot out your meals so you can pack the foods that you'll eat early in the trip at the top of the cooler; this will cut down on time spent rummaging around with the lid open.

>>> There are a lot of healthy options for eating while camping out:

Breakfast: Alternate days with light breakfasts and heavier breakfasts depending on how much physical activity you have planned for each day. A great breakfast option is pre-measured baggies full of rolled oats cooked over a camp stove (or instant oatmeal packets if you’re feeling lazy).  Sweeten the oats with dried fruit or honey.  Other solid breakfast choices are whole wheat pancakes or a easy breakfast burritos. 

Snacks: If you’re hiking or swimming during the day, you’re likely to get hungry between meals.  Certain fruits and veggies — such as apples, carrots - will last a few days in a pack and are great for snacking. Homemade trial mix is also a great idea.  Combine your favorite, healthy granola recipe with nuts and dried fruit.  Protein and granola bars are also options for easy snacking; just be sure to choose varieties that are low in sugar and preservatives.

Lunch:  Load up on fruits and veggies, opt for whole grains, such as whole grain pita bread or wraps, which pack easily, are a good source of fiber,  Fill pita pockets or wraps with all-natural nut butters, hummus and veggies, or tuna, which is a good source of protein (purchase tuna in pouches, not cans, for lighter packing).

Dinner: Dinner can be a great time to get creative with camping food since you’ll have time to pull out the cooking equipment, start an open fire, and explore some serious flavor profiles. Packing different spices from home in separate baggies can make for a more flavorful meal and may add some nutritional benefits, such as antioxidants or improved digestion. 

Try simple ingredients like beans, corn, brown rice, and salsa in whole grain tortillas.  Or use whole wheat pita bread to make easy pizzas — just add sauce, cheese, and veggie toppings and toast it in a pan over a cook stove until the bread is somewhat crispy and the cheese has melted.

For dessert, roast fruit over the open fire with a little honey and nuts.  Yes, S'mores are acceptable too!

Stay hydrated: Remember to drink water. Know in advance what your water sources will be and whether you’ll have to bring your own, or treat the water available to ensure it’s safe to consume.

Sticking to healthy foods while enjoying the outdoors will supply enough energy to fill each day with adventures and keep a healthy diet on track.

While you can't control everything like the weather, crazy wildlife, and anything else nature can throw at you, you can control what you eat and how you choose to fuel your body! 

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