Nutrition Q&A: Stay on Plan While Camping and RV-ingWe are relatively new but avid RV campers. Learning how to prepare and eat on a camping trip has been quite a learning process. One of the biggest challenges is not to look at the camping trip as a vacation from your good nutritional habits – especially if you camp frequently or for a long period of time.
Nutrition Q&A 7-16-21
Question from Carol
With the onset of summer, and travel restrictions lifted, RV-ing is one of my favorite things to do. Any recipe suggestions for campers to stay on plan while limiting the endless bags of chips and smores?
I’m delighted to get this question as we are relatively new but avid RV campers. Learning how to prepare and eat on a camping trip has been quite a learning process. One of the biggest challenges is not to look at the camping trip as a vacation from your good nutritional habits – especially if you camp frequently or for a long period of time.
Many people will find their appetites increase in the great outdoors and seek hearty, comforting options. Unfortunately, very few of us sit down to big plates of greens at the picnic table because, face it, it sounds easier to serve hotdogs and chips than a grilled chicken salad.
Through trial and error, we found the key is to plan and prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Personally, I start by making containers of washed and cut veggies that transport easily. For us, this is usually carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumber. If we have a hamburger or hot dog for lunch, we fill the rest of our plates with vegetables. Skip the chips, and bank those calories for later (dessert is described below!).
My husband and I split the RV chores before, during, and after the trip. He focuses on the setup, operation, and teardown of the trailer while I focus on the food preparations. I always pack a couple of days’ worth of lunch options, as this seems to be the meal that takes the biggest hit during a busy day of activities. Not planning for lunch could easily result in poor choices and portion control issues later in the day. My go-to lunch is a slightly modified chicken salad. You can find the recipe here https://barbell-logic.com/nutrition-tip-of-the-week-greek-yogurt-subs-chicken-salad-recipe/#content
Another thing we like to do is trim, marinate, and package meats ahead of time. In addition to helping me avoid handling meat wrappers in the RV, it accelerates the dinner preparation timeline significantly. The meat can go straight from the bag to the grill, and then we just toss the bag in the trash. The best part is this also reduces the amount of dishes that need to be washed, especially important if you are dry camping (aka “Boondocking”). It also eliminates the need to carry a bunch of extra ingredients in the RV, where space is always at a premium. These preparations tend to keep us committed to our plan rather than opting to go to a restaurant if our daytime activities run long. The best part is that we get to enjoy our “Sundowners” during cocktail hour since we don’t have to drive anywhere for food!
When we determine where we’ll be camping, I look and see if there are any local farmers markets where I can pick up local fruits, veggies, and other interesting seasonal foods. This has become a little bit of an adventure for us and helps us learn a new location through the eyes of the locals.
And now…let’s talk about the S’mores—as they seem to be an inextricable part of the RV or camping experience. Enjoy them in small quantities, and be sure to budget for them by avoiding sweet treats the rest of the day (remember we skipped the chips earlier!). One S’more made with three squares of Hershey’s Chocolate, one marshmallow, and one graham cracker sheet is actually only about 220 calories! So, one S’more won’t undo your diet…but let’s make sure it really is just one S’more.
One of the easiest ways to avoid “off the rails” snacking is to stay hydrated so your body doesn’t mistake thirst for hunger. In addition to drinking more water, you can also increase your intake of those water-rich vegetables I mentioned earlier in the article. Finally, restrict the number of chips and snacks you pack for the trip. Remember, you are more likely to reach for them if they are readily accessible.
The whole point of an RV or camping trip is to change your setting and enjoy something new. These simple preparations help us maintain our gains, stay on track for our goals, and keep our bodies & minds charged for the adventure!