Breaking up with PB&J
By Stacy Boyce, Girls Who Hike South Carolina Ambassador
Today we have a much better understanding of how food affects our bodies. Beyond the fad diets, it is becoming clear that we need to void certain foods. For some of us, these new food relations mean cutting out popular food like dairy, gluten, or sugar just to name a few.
Sadly I no longer indulge in PB&Js because for me they now live on the “no-no” food list. I have a few medical diagnoses that science is now attributing to inflammation. In short, some food causes our bodies to swell, or inflame, and that can lead to several diseases. Learn more here or here. Bread, peanuts, and sugar are all inflammatory. So, goodbye dear PB&J.
My quest for good health has led me down the paleo path. I’ve been very casual with it for two years because it requires significant discipline and I’ve been lazy. There are a lot of tasty non-compliant foods out there (looking at your cupcakes & pizza)! For the last two years, I’ve done a January Whole30, so I do understand what it takes to stick to an anti-inflammatory, paleo diet. However, those month long commitments failed to create lasting behavior changes. Tired of suffering through mood-swing, mystery headaches, light fatigue, and lackluster sleep I decided to tackle my diet once and for all in 2018.
As I planned and transitioned to an anti-inflammatory diet, one of my chief concerns was trail food. I love eating a real lunch on the trail. Sure I pack RXBars and trail mix, but those are for emergencies only. Frankly, I don’t understand how so many people can hike for hours, surviving on nothing by a power bar and handful of nuts. That makes my hungry stomach grumble! In the past PB&J was my go-to trail lunch. I would even get fancy and use cashew butter with homemade strawberry preserves, YUM!
This new diet has forced me to branch far away from my go-to trail lunch and find new yummy ways to keep my energy up. I know I’m not the only one spending hours on the trail unable to eat a traditional sandwich.
So here’s to a sisterhood of restricted diets, and how I am learning to live on more than trail mix.
Don’t wait until the last minute to pack lunch
When bread was an option, I could wake up, make a PB&J and hit the trail; now it’s not so easy. I start thinking about my trail lunch days before my hike. A big part of living on a restricted diet means carefully planning your meals so that you aren’t caught unprepared and thus tempted to eat the bad stuff. My meal plan day is Sunday, and on weeks when I know I’ll be hiking I plan one meal that will be trail-friendly. Sometimes that means a hamburger with a lettuce bun (which can be surprisingly tasty). Other times it’s chopped salad or a stir-fry. I’m not as big a fan of these trail lunches, but they work.
If you’re heading out for an overnight trip, this also means researching dehydrated food ahead of time. These meals aren’t ideal, but they are super convenient when backpacking. On a 1-2 night trip I still try to make fresh food, but always carry a dehydrated meal for backup.
Try trail food ideas during the week
It is pretty miserable to be stuck on the trail hungry with nothing appealing in your food bag. If you don’t prepare your meals right, you'll be left with nothing but trail mix and a snack bar, or maybe less. To combat this, I try to cook one trail recipe a week and test the dish at home. If it’s a complete flop, I can fix it in a full kitchen, but on the trail, I would be risk “hangry” (no one wants to see that).
Find the right food container
Did you see that coming? I sure didn’t. Sandwich bags aren’t great for good that requires a fork. For some reason, this caught me by surprise. I have a few plastic containers but those do not fit very well in a backpack. Plus, you have to find ones that are spill proof unless you want food juices all over your gear (gross). In February I tried recycling a trail mix bag. Pro: it packs very well; Con: it’s much taller than needed. I’m still searching for the right food container, but I have hope I’ll find something.