It’s difficult to maintain a healthy diet when you’re presented with new, exotic foods and tasty treats. When it comes to your health, backpacking poses more of a challenge than traditional travel, as you’ll most likely be on a tight budget.
Food items which are higher in fats usually come cheaper than the healthier ones – tacos and quesadillas in Mexico, stir fried noodles in Hong Kong, deep fried pakora in India, banana pancakes in Thailand, suppli in Italy, etc.!
And although you should sample the local favourites, that’s all you should do if you want to maintain healthy eating habits when backpacking abroad.
1. Shop at Local Grocery Stores
Finding a local store is a cheap and effective way to eat healthy. For one, purchasing food from a supermarket is usually less expensive than eating out since you’re buying food that will last you longer than one meal. Groceries offer food that is fresh, which enables you to fix a healthy meal, rather than one full of fats, sugars, and preservatives.
Grocery stores, or markets, are also great places to restock healthy snacks for your backpacking venture, like fresh fruits, granola bars, and mixed nuts. (Healthy snacks do not include chocolate bars and chips.)
Web MD recommends shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, where fruits, vegetables, fish, and dairy are typically located. The center aisles tend to house junk food — these should often be avoided!
2. Seek Accommodations With a Kitchen
If you’re able to shop at a local market or grocery store, then it’s preferable that you also have access to a kitchen. Whether you’re in a hotel, hostel, or staying with a local, always utilize the kitchen if you can. This allows you to fix meals perfectly portioned for your day and creates a healthy habit of not eating out as much.
Some affordable, yet healthy meals include stir fried vegetables with rice, whole wheat pasta with a tomato based sauce, green salad, scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast, yogurt with granola and fruit, etc.
If you’re backpacking in the wilderness, be sure to grab food which you can toss together into a meal for later. Just because you’re hiking doesn’t mean you can’t eat well; there are many options for food to cook while in the wild, from freeze-dried and dehydrated foods to dry pastas and canned meats.
Remember that an adequate diet is crucial for your health when taking on strenuous activity like climbing mountains or rugged trails.
Related Article: What to Pack for a Camping and Trekking Backpacking Trip
3. Don’t Skip Breakfast
If you find yourself skipping breakfast only to be ravenous by lunch, you might want to rethink your choices. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, as it offers a great boost to your morning. One of the main benefits for backpackers is that it increases your energy. It also improves memory, concentration, and mood, according to inc.com.
Breakfast makes you feel more awake and even helps you burn fat throughout the day. In order to keep your mind off of food during a long hike or tour through a new city, make sure you don’t skip this meal!
4. Don’t Snack (On Junk Food) – Eat Real Meals
If you decide to constantly eat junk food because it looks appetizing and makes you feel full in the moment, then rethink your diet. Snacking consistently throughout the day on foods lacking in fiber and nutrients is not good for you; it will only make you hungrier.
Sitting down to eat a full meal, even if it’s out in the forest, is great for your health. If you must snack, choose a protein bar, some fruit, or nuts to maintain some energy. This is perfectly fine — especially while hiking. However, junk food will only slow you down and make you lethargic.
Check out these additional tips for staying healthy while you travel!
5. Pack a Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is essential to keeping a healthy diet. It helps you feel fuller and more energetic while also keeping headaches away.
If you’re heading into the wilderness, always take some sort of water filter, as it’s important to treat the water you find while outside of civilization. Some experts say that water at high elevations in remote areas may actually be cleaner than we think. However, it is still safer to be prepared than to be stuck without a filter.
In more isolated countries, tap water is not always safe to drink, so keep that in mind as well when traveling abroad.
Having a water filter, or purification tablets will help the budget out as well because you won’t need to constantly purchase bottled water. Not to mention, you’ll be helping out the environment by not discarding all of that plastic.
Bree Weidman is a Marketing Specialist for Tokio Marine HCC – MIS Group, a full-service insurance organization offering domestic short term and travel medical insurance products to international travelers worldwide.
Though she’s been writing her entire life, Bree has been a contributing author to the MIS Group blog for about a year now, covering topics paramount to global adventurers: health, safety, culture, and insurance, to name a few. When Bree isn’t writing, you’ll likely find her daydreaming about her next international vacation!
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