Best Foods to Eat When You Are Feeling…Mood and Foods
Backpackers and especially thru hikers experience the whole spectrum of feelings and moods out on the trail. One day you can be ecstatic to be hiking and the next day or even hour can turn a complete 180. When you’re out in the elements, the weather can play a big role in your mood. If its unexpectedly cold or rainy, that can really put a damper on things. Being in the wilderness for days on end is bound to put you into situations where you are uncomfortable, i.e. cold, wet, hungry, tired. In fact, most of the time I am more uncomfortable than not! That is part of the challenge that so many backpackers, including myself, enjoy. When you make it through the tough times, you will be stronger and more confident for the next.
Best Foods to Eat When You Are Feeling…
Almonds are rich in magnesium which has been dubbed the “miracle mineral.” Magnesium is a vital electrolyte that assists the body in over 300 functions, including muscle contraction, nerve function, and bone development. Magnesium also improves sleep and boosts moods. Almonds also contain a lot of protein and fiber which helps slow down digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels so you do not have energy spikes and crashes. Consuming almonds can help your energy level remain even throughout the day.
Quinoa is a complete protein and has all 9 essential fatty acids needed by our bodies. These fatty acids transport oxygen throughout the body, improve brain function, assist in development of tissues and organs, and provide energy when glucose is not available. Quinoa also contains lysine which aids in muscle growth and repair.
Ginger has the ability to raise body temperature and gets its thermogenic quality from the two compounds gingerol and shogaol. Ginger can also help relieve headaches and stomachaches. Ginger root is not exactly conducive to backpacking, but ground ginger will work just as well. Ground ginger has undergone processing and has lost some of the gingerol it contains; however, the grinding process increases the amount of shogaol. While backpacking, I like to take ginger tea and occasionally some crystallized ginger candies. You could also add some ground ginger to noodles, rice, oatmeal, or soup.
Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate and complex carbs take more effort for your body to digest. This extra work done creates extra heat, warming you up from the inside out. Just be sure you don’t reach for an instant oatmeal with lots of added sugars. For backpacking, I always go with organic instant oatmeal and then add my own extras, like freeze dried fruit, nuts, seeds, honey, or nut butter.
1. Peanut Butter and Apple
Shakiness often occurs when you have a drop in blood glucose levels. Most people who experience this are hypoglycemic or diabetic but you can also experience symptoms similar to hypoglycemia if you wait too long between meals. While backpacking, your body will be burning through lots of calories and adjusting to all the different stresses you’re putting on it. Mixing fruit, which typically has low glycemic carbs, with a food high in fat and protein is the perfect combination to battle a case of the shakes.
2. Macadamia nuts
Nuts have a great combination of nutrients that are good for people with hypoglycemia. They are naturally high in fat, low glycemic carbs, fiber, and protein and will keep blood sugar levels steady. Be sure to choose plain nuts and not those coated with sugar, chocolate, or yogurt. Nut butters are also a great choice and many come in individual sized packets that work great for backpacking.
You may have noticed ginger is on this list twice and that’s because its a fantastic spice with a variety of uses. Not only can it warm you up on a chilly night, but ginger is great for nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, congestion, and is anti inflammatory. Ginger contains two chemicals, gingerol and shogaol, that work to relax the intestinal tract and reduce nausea and upset stomachs. The easiest ways to carry ginger with you while backpacking are ginger tea and ground ginger. I always take some ginger tea bags on trips with me just in case of an upset stomach. Plus it tastes great!
If you’re feeling nauseous while hiking, you’re probably not going to want to eat; however, if you continue on you’re going to need to consume some calories. The best foods to eat if you can’t stomach much are bland foods such as bananas, rice, or crackers. Bananas help relieve nausea because they stimulate mucus production along the stomach lining. The mucus then acts as a barrier between the stomach lining and acidic gastric substances which are the primary cause of nausea. Bananas are also a great source of potassium, a vital electrolyte that you’ll need to replenish while hiking.
1. Fennel Seeds
People often become bloated after exercising because they are not properly hydrating. If you become dehydrated during continual physical activity, like hiking, your body will pull water out of internal organs such as the kidneys and liver. This can cause bloating, stomach pain, and gas. Fennel seeds stimulate digestion and have been proven effective for bloating and cramping of the stomach. The seeds contain compounds which are anti inflammatory and anti spasmodic that help to relax intestinal muscles and release trapped gas. For backpacking, you can either chew on dried fennel seeds or take some fennel seed tea.
I would love to hear what some of your favorite remedies are out on the trail. Leave a comment below!