In my experience, staying fit and healthy is the key to getting the most from life. I know when I am feeling fit and healthy – the air is fresher, the sky is bluer, obstacles are challenges and there are more solutions than problems. The world is just such a better place.
A key to feeling healthy is eating right. This varies for everyone and is totally dependent on many factors such as age, level of activity, allergies, religion and even mood.
Maintaining a balanced diet that keeps you feeling healthy and vibrant is always a challenge and is one of the toughest things to do when working away. Having control of your diet can have sizeable roll-on effects to all aspects of your existence when away from home, including your mental wellbeing.
So, here’s 19 tips I’ve gained along the way that have kept me healthy and somewhat sane over my years of working away (in no particular order):
1. Anything is OK in moderation
Don’t beat yourself up over a binge or bad meal – you should have earned it. However, make sure you’ve earned it!
2. Limit your intake of gluten, prolamines and lectins.
This includes breads, cereals, grains, pasta and rice. It also takes into account legumes such as beans, lentils, corn and peas. Given these are some of the staples of the camp accommodation menu, if I do include them then it will be for breakfast.
3. Eat plenty of veggies!
This tip is at the very core of maintaining a healthy nutritional strategy whilst away for work. Whenever the opportunity presents, grab some broccoli, carrots, spinach, cucumber, beetroot, cabbage and cauliflower. You may have to go looking for them but it is worth it. On a related note…
4. Capsicums, Capsicums, Capsicums!
I could probably write a whole blog just about how great capsicums are! A capsicum a day got me through 2 Canadian winters unscathed and have sworn by them ever since.
Capsicum boosts metabolism and strengthens immunity. Source: AWW
5. Set food goals, especially on long trips/rotations
Fish and Chip Fridays (proper battered fish, deep fried fish), Taco Thursdays, Roast Sunday etc. I find it gives me just another small goal for the week and something to make me train a bit harder to enjoy… guilt free!
6. Don’t over eat!
You’d be surprised how little you need to consume per day to stay healthy. Just because the food is free, don’t feel obliged to eat as much as you can as often as you can. And limit what you take to work for morning tea and lunch. If it is there, you will eat it.
7. Sourcing you energy from fats, not carbs
Some consider this to be Nutrition 101. Plenty of steak, chicken, fish, bacon when it is available with eggs and cold meat for lunch. (The type of cold meat that was cooked the previous night but I’ll let you source that).
8. Dessert time!
Now, this is a tough topic for me as I have real trouble with dessert. I have tried abstinence, have tried walking around the dessert bar, even tried going for dinner late so dessert would be cleaned up. The end result is… that I love dessert!!! So I figure that if I eat well and stay active, dessert every third night is OK…isn’t it?
9. Know what you are eating
Ask what is in the beef stew, lamb curry or the chicken korma. Most camp chefs are willing to discuss, just ask them nicely.
10. Keep a food diary for a few days
When I am feeling flat, despondent or just plain ordinary I can usually track it back to eating and/or lack of exercise. It’s helpful to know what you are eating in a day as you can sometimes lose track.
11. Create good eating habits across your home and away time
I find this helps keep my energy levels stay consistent and allows me to settle back into accommodation food and my work that little bit easier.
12. Limit alcohol consumption
Drinking can make me lose my appetite and even a couple of beers with work colleagues a few nights a week leads to one of two things. 1- I skip dinner and instead fill up on Doritos and beef jerky or 2- fill up on Doritos and beef jerky, go and have dinner and not sleep because I have a full tummy!! I don’t usually drink when on rotation but if I do I try to limit it to the cheat nights when beer and a BBQ sounds quite inviting. And while on the topic of drinking…
13. Drink plenty of water
I find this not only helps me feel healthy but does tend to kill my appetite a little also.
14. Always have breakfast
If I skip breakfast I am well and truly down by 900 and if I’m busy and don’t eat until 1100; grumpiest man in the world! For me breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
15. Enjoy eating
Eating should be pleasurable; after all you are refuelling your body. Take the time to sit and enjoy your lunch, take in your surroundings at breakfast. Given that I have my breakfast and lunch usually in my office, I always make sure at dinner I sit down quietly and enjoy my meal for what it is….the sustenance that your body and mind have earned after successfully negotiating another rotation of the earth.
16. Eat for your health, not your taste buds
There are plenty food diet distractions so this is a good general mantra to live by. Again, refer to point 1.
17. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring
Take flavour with you. I take coconut oil which goes with just about anything! Also take spices and herbs to sprinkle on my steak and chicken and it helps with the salads some times.
Coconut Oil can increase your energy expenditure, helping you burn more fat. Source: Authority Nutrition
18. Watch out for sugar
Working in an office filled with administration girls, this goes beyond a teaspoon with my instant coffee. There is a constant supply of biscuits, lollies, cake and other food bought from camp and the shop for birthday, leavings or just because. It’s a trap, they are trying to fatten us all up!
19. Have a banana or two on hand
I don’t always have a chance to stop when I’m hungry so I try to always have a banana or two around to get me through the next hour or so.
Bananas are a great source of potassium and fibre. Source: Live Science
So this is by no means a gospel of eating but a beginners guide which seems to have kept me healthy and able to keep up with the rigours of quite a demanding profession. My diet will vary slightly depending on how hard and often I am training, which is also a big part in keeping my vitality levels up.
I think nutrition is an important part of an away workers lifestyle and am interested to get feedback and input from others away workers on this subject.
So, until the next instalment, keep safe and stay connected!