Food or Feed?
Sounds great eating an extra 2,000 calories a day, doesn’t it? All you have to do is hike and eat, hike and eat. Hiking long distances with a heavy bag means my body is working harder and burning a lot more energy compared to my fairly normal static position behind a screen. Combine this factor with that heavy bag being heavy because it’s full of my food for the next week; add in water or finding water sources plus the equipment to boil water, eating becomes a bit of a burden.
I love food, I like talking about it, making plans with it, sharing, feasting and indulging. Not many days go by where I haven’t put in much consideration to what I will consume on that day. My overnight camping trips will feature some homemade delights and premium meats, while holidays and travel adventures will heavily focus on what the local dining scene has to offer. So I’m asking myself, what am I going to eat on the trail for those 2,600 miles, rehydrated vac packed meals and super noodles? These options and those similar lacks much appeal. They are easy to consume and prepare but the weight of water and accessibility to regular supplies of specialist items will prove restrictive. Combining all these personal and logistical issues I am presented with my new planning challenge.
I have worked in the food industry or hospitality industry in one form or another for half my life. I’m no chef but I love to cook tasty fresh food, understand where it comes from and what it’s going to do for my body. I qualified as a bachelor of Nutrition and Food Science and have been using that knowledge ever since. I’m now torn between the necessity to feed myself with calorific lightweight foods or to carry a bit more weight, walk less miles per day but enjoy what I eat knowing it is doing good for my body.
The catch is, the foods we all know that are really high in calories and that we love eating are dishes I’m not going to be able to whip up on the trail (I’m thinking burgers, pizza, full English breakfast). The next easy to eat highly calorific foods are the candy and chocolate category. I am certainly not going to be pursuing a sugar based diet for the 5 months I’ll be hiking next year. Yes chocolate will be featured heavily on the menu but I won’t be relying on this as a main energy source to fuel my hike. What is it I should be eating? From the little experience I have, my criteria for planning my hiking menu: nutrient dense, high calorie content, easy to prepare and eat, lightweight, minimal packaging, easy to resupply.
There are various approaches represented online for long distance thru-hikers. For example the ultra light crew that plan to go fast and light to cover greater daily miles may sacrifice on luxuries or enjoyment of food buy choosing powdered meal supplements and protein energy bars. A llot of my food choices will be forced by how many days and miles I choose to walk to the next resupply town.
I’m developing some recipe ideas that I will be putting to the test before I go, I am determined to enjoy my food while I’m hiking but manage to keep on track of my daily miles!
Let’s see how this goes.......
If you have any ideas feel free to comment in the box below!