My Approach to Eating Healthier on the CDT
Hike, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. That’s really all it comes down to when Thru Hiking. Hike as far as you want to, stay fed and get enough rest to enable you to keep hiking day after day.
In My first post on The Trek I talked about all the ways I’m starting to get ready for the CDT. Food was one of the topics I’d be thinking on and this post is where I’m at with it right now.
After six months on the Appalachian trail I got to the point where I knew how I like to eat on the trail. Like most people I ate and will continue to eat staples like Ramen Noodles, Peanut Butter and Granola Bars. On the the AT I did what most people do and resupplied at grocery stores and gas stations.
One thing that is going to be quite different on the CDT is how and where we resupply, we are going to use a combination of resupply methods.
1) When we know we are going to be stopping in a town with a decent grocery store we will resupply there for convenience.
2) When we have a stretch on the CDT that doesn’t have a convenient/decent store we will have pre staged food sent out to us by a friend.
By having our food pre staged it enables us to have a little bit more control over what we eat rather than just buying what’s available in the store.
The Key Points I’m considering when planning my food:
Having a more balanced, healthier diet is my main goal on the CDT
I’m pretty happy with my overall food “plan” from the Appalachian Trail. The main thing I want to improve upon is it’s nutrition. I eat a mostly Paleo diet at home and so want to reduce the amount of processed carbs I eat on trail and try to eat more nutritious food in it’s place.
I don’t want to create a lot more work for myself
I’m only going to be using my stove in the evening
No “Cooking” for the evening Meal
Lightweight, High Calorie, Tasty, Affordable, Shelf Stable
Lets look at what I ate on the AT and how I’m going to change things up
Breakfast is usually my favourite meal of the day whether that’s at home or out on the trail. Probably because it’s the meal that Includes coffee.
My go to breakfast on the AT was a hearty serving of granola with a big handful of trail mix. I added a spoonful of powdered milk and stirred in cold water for a super satisfying start to the day. I dumped two pouches of Starbucks Via into my 500ml Nalgene and drank “ice” coffee to get the day started.
I could go to the effort of making my own Paleo granola at home but that would involve a lot of work and would end up costing more than buying store bought granola. I also varied what trail mix I added in, the nuts and seeds add a good amount of fat and protein to my breakfast. Although Starbucks Via is pretty tasty (for instant coffee) I’m working on a few ideas that could make for a tasty and much cheaper alternative.
Lunch was always the meal that varied the most for me out on the trail. Rarely did I cook at lunch, usually favouring some kind of bread like tortillas or Arnold Sandwich thins. I would pair the bread with peanut butter, cheese, summer sausage or Sriracha, sometimes all four.
I would like to find a healthier alternative but I’m struggling to come up with something thats as quick and convenient to prepare that has sufficient calories. Any ideas?
My standard dinner on the AT was two blocks of Ramen with a tuna pouch and some Sriracha and Olive Oil for extra flavour and calories. I really enjoyed this meal and rarely changed it up.
My intention in 2017 is to replace one block of Ramen with a handful of healthy, home dehydrated veggies. This should help get me more of the nutrients my body needs but still provide enough calories. I plan on ditching the MSG laden seasoning packets from the Ramen and making up my own seasoning packets for a little variation.
Other meals I ate out on the trail were Knorr Pasta Sides with a tuna pouch, Instant mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes if I could find them) and partially rehydrated beef jerky. Or if I was feeling really fancy i’d pick up a Mountain House! How luxurious.
Home Dehydrated Sweet Potato
Vitamins I’ll be taking and why
- Fish oil – I take fish oil everyday at home as it’s been proven to help your body in many ways including good joint health, a critical factor on a thru hike.
- Glucosamine Sulphate and Chondroitin – These two together are used to improve cartilage and ligaments that support our joints, the IT band gets a beating when we hike so why not give it some love.
- Probiotic – I take probiotics to promote healthy gut bacteria, this is important on the trail and hopefully reduces the chances of getting a virus.
- Basic Multivitamin – I don’t take this in normal life as I’m eating plenty of greens and vegetables, not so easy out on the trail though.
My diet plans won’t look super revolutionary to anyone that has done a lot of backpacking but I do feel there are some key things that I’m changing up that could help balance out my diet and make it a little healthier. If you think there’s something I can do to improve my food plan then please leave a comment below.
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