Nutritionist Jenna Jackson completed a 3-year program of Holistic Nutrition at Pacific Rim College, an industry-renowned school of Complimentary and Integrative Medicine. There she developed a strong understanding of Diet Therapy, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and some Western Herbal Medicine. She works with clients to find a permanent and sustainable fix to their health concerns using natural approaches that take into consideration each person’s bio-individuality. Find her at alpenglownutrition.ca
Dining with a view: Preparing nutritious and delicious food for the backcountry
Yes, breakfast is still the most important meal of the day, and the breakfast before your adventure is the last meal you’ll get with all the luxurious amenities of your kitchen, so make it count!
The key here is to have a slow burning, hearty meal that’s not going to weigh you down too much. Include easy-to-digest carbohydrates with good fats, fibre and protein; this will ensure you are starting your day off will stable blood sugar.
Meals with eggs, avocado, sweet potato or potato hash browns, steamed greens and a small piece of sprouted grain toast is a great way to get in good proteins, fats and fibre which will help the calories or energy from that meal last longer (burn slower). A big hearty bowl of oatmeal, with a scoop of coconut oil, fruit, chia or flax seeds and hemp hearts, or an egg stirred in for some protein, would be a great option as well.
Quick sugars are always a good idea to have in your snack pack. What are quick sugars? Quick sugars are high glycemic index foods that will raise your blood sugar quickly because of the low fibre to sugar ratio. When you start to feel light headed, dizzy or grumpy, your blood sugar is low. When you’re in the backcountry it is good to have something on hand that will bring your blood sugar—and your focus—back quickly, especially if you are doing something that requires you to be alert, such as mountaineering or scrambling. There can be moments when your blood sugar drops quickly because your muscles will be working harder than usual; our muscles primarily burn glucose (sugar). Some of these quick sugars to have on hand include dates, or date and nut bars, fruit and electrolyte packs. Dark chocolate always does the trick, too.
Lunch is usually a quick stop with a beautiful view. Rather than trying to bring a sandwich that can be heavy on your stomach and your pack, instead, an option is to continue snacking for lunch. Snacks like homemade trail mix with a good variety of nuts and seeds are perfect, or maybe some dark chocolate with some dried fruit—but not too much, as dried fruit can cause cramps and dehydration. On that note, drink plenty of water, perhaps with some electrolytes if it has been a particularly hot and enduring trip.
By now you will be sick of trail mix and power bars, so treat yourself! Pre-cooked organic chicken breasts, steaks or tofu work great as backcountry dinner meals, they will add a little extra weight but it will be worth not having another cardboard-flavored, add-water meal. Accompany the protein with a good, easy-to-digest grain like quinoa or basmati rice. This will provide good carbohydrates to replenish lost glucose stores. For vegetables, bring something that has a tough exterior and will survive the trip in your pack. Broccoli is tough and can quickly be steamed in some water to add some green and complete your meal. Pre-mix spices in a zip lock to make your meal a little more exciting.
It is always good to plan for emergencies. That goes for food and water, too. Planning a trip that has known water sources along the way will help lighten the load in your pack. We are fortunate in Jasper National Park to have some of the cleanest water sources to drink from. For winter adventures, bring a lightweight cook stove to melt snow for drinking water.
For emergency food you want something lightweight but filling. The one-serving protein powder packs are great to have as backup, along with chia seeds—these are incredibly filling due to their high soluble fibre content—and quick oats. You can mix these three together with water and have a meal to sustain you until help arrives. Throwing in a few of your favourite protein bars is always a good idea; look for bars with the least amount of ingredients.
Eating in the backcountry doesn’t have to feel like a requisite fuel stop. With a bit of planning, your adventures in the mountains can also be delicious, nutritious explorations of the palate.
EIGHT STEPS TO MASTERING YOUR SPRING CLEANSE
Spring is a time of renewal, sparking a change in the earth and within us. After a long winter of indulgence and self-reflection it is our time to clean the body and mind of anything that doesn’t serve us. It is a time where we tend to start moving more and crave a lighter and fresher diet. Naturally, spring is the best time to do a cleanse, but we must do it safely while listening to our bodies. Here are eight ways to master your spring cleanse, safely and effectively:
1 Do your research:
A lot of cleanses include a drastic calorie count change. If you have a busy life you cannot put on hold, calorie restriction is going to put a lot of stress on your body. Cleanses such as a whole foods challenge, or a sugar-free cleanse are great places to start without having to restrict calories. You will still be able to put up with the demands of busy life and still reap the benefits of a cleaner diet.
2 Do a pre-cleanse:
It’s a lot to ask of our bodies to go from eating a diet of whatever we please straight into a juice cleanse the next day. The side effects will not be pretty. Start small and eliminate processed and packaged foods from you diet, slowly increase your vegetable and fiber intake and use more whole foods. This will help stabilize blood sugar and make for an easy transition into the cleanse with less side effects like headaches, fatigue, constipation and irritability.
3 Increase your water intake:
Without enough water our body is unable to excrete toxins properly. If we are dehydrated the toxins will be re-absorbed by the bloodstream. About one liter per every 100 lbs of body weight is a great starting point.
4 Daily elimination:
The whole point of a cleanse is to eliminate toxins from the body and that is a job for our channels of excretion: sweat, urine and bowels. In some cleanses, for instance a longer juice cleanse, there is no fiber to provide bulk for a daily bowel movement, leading to constipation. Juices make a great addition to a cleanse protocol to get the extra antioxidants and phytonutrients vegetables have to offer. I recommend incorporating soluble and insoluble fiber and some gentle liver herbs to keep elimination happening during your cleanse.
5 Down time/ sleep:
Your body will need extra rest during this time of detoxification and regeneration. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine during our night’s rest is when our organs do the most regenerating and detoxifying. Meaning, our organs’ regenerative modes are triggered by the Para-sympathetic nervous system, also known as ‘rest and digest.’ Our rest at night is the only chance for some of us to give this time to our organs, so make sure to set aside a little extra time to sleep during a cleanse. I suggest eight hours per night with a focus on going to bed around or before 11 p.m.
Sweat is another channel of excretion and it is a great way for a little extra detox during a cleanse. Sweating helps us detox our largest organ—the skin. Exercise also decreases insulin resistance, decreasing our sugar cravings! Moderate exercise during a cleanse is plenty.
7 Foods for the liver:
Focus specifically on foods that play a role in phase 2 of the liver detoxification pathway. Our liver has 2 stages of detox, the second being the most important as in turns toxins into a water-soluble form for excretion. This pathway requires sulfur containing amino acids. Foods high in sulfur are broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and other brassica family vegetables, eggs, garlic, onions and brazil nuts.
Stress causes inflammation in the body, disrupts the delicate flow of your hormones’ insulin resistance and studies have shown that it actually increases weight gain, especially around the midsection of the body. During your cleanse implement a routine that involves some de-stressing activities. Some of my favorites are yin yoga, meditation and being in nature. Deep breaths cleanse all parts of the body and mind.
Jenna completed a 3-year program of Holistic Nutrition at Pacific Rim College, an industry-renowned school of Complimentary and Integrative Medicine. There she developed a strong understanding of Diet Therapy, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and some Western Herbal Medicine. She works with clients to find a permanent and sustainable fix to their health concerns using natural approaches that take into consideration each person’s bio-individuality. Find her at alpenglownutrition.ca