How to maintain your diet while living in a Campervan
Travel can be a challenge when trying to keep a healthy diet.
Everything from the ever-changing schedule, economy, keeping your food refrigerated & not knowing when you’ll get the next break to have a meal.
Fortunately you can work around all this.
You’ll need to take precautions and stay on top of your planning whether you travel through towns with plenty of groceries or you live in your camper van in the middle of a forest.
But let’s talk about the actual issue here, your health!
What would be the point of living the magical #VanLife if you’re not fit, strong and healthy?
No reason whatsoever right? And on top of that, dealing with a ‘hangry’ spouse can be a real pain in the rear.
Two Major Vanlife Diet Mistakes
I live with my wife in our old Fiat 242E from 1983, we are basically together 24 hours a day, and there are two things that can get us into a good old fight every single time:
It just sucks, and we’re actually not that bad, we often do intermittent fasting and juicing for a couple of days every now and again.
Since it’s always planned, we know that we might get agitated, but unplanned hunger is a big problem for us.
2. Poor meal planning
Not knowing what’s for dinner can really trash your vanlife diet & nutrition.
“What should we eat tonight?”… Man what a troublesome question.
That question can ruin any good relationship, and if you are a solo traveler it can ruin your health.
Secrets for Vanlife Diet & Nutrition Success
First of all, you need to have a plan, you need to think about several things.
Forget about eating as you would do normally back home, van living requires a few sacrifices
But with some practice and careful planning, you can adjust and find an eating plan that works for vanlife diet and nutrition.
Know and Plan for Dietary Needs
What kind of diet are you normally eating? Are you vegan, on a ketogenic diet, low carb, fruitarian or are you a typical meat and potatoes kind of person, training for athletic events?
As long as you have a solid framework for your nutrition, you can stay healthy on the road.
Food Storage Space
Food takes up quite a lot space. It can be a special challenge if you don’t have regular access to groceries.
So it’s crucial to have plenty of cool and dry space to store your veggies.
Another really important thing to think about is fridge space. Veggies, meat & dairy go bad fast if not kept under the right conditions.
In light of this, you should think about canned and dried goods as staple foods if necessary.
Stock Up and Keep Track of Your Foods
Keep track of what you have left at all times and make sure you are well stocked up on dried herbs and spices.
Even if you eat the same ingredients for several days straight, seasoning will help keep the food exciting and tasty and that will help you to avoid burnout on a more limited diet.
So it’s a good idea to make room for the ingredients, flavorings and spices that you most love.
One of my go-to’s is Tabasco sauce. Roasted Chipotle, to be exact. I always make room for it.
Make sure you have a meal plan, don’t leave your diet to chance, you simply don’t want that worry in the back of your mind.
Know your favorite campervan meals. Easy campsite recipes, are my favorites, like one-pot stews.
I also love Indian dahl, Thai coconut curry and Italian style Bolognese with zucchini pasta.
We have a funky handheld veggie spiral pasta maker that saves us all those empty carbs from the wheat pasta.
Snacking for Vanlife Diet & Nutrition
Stuck in traffic at 6 pm and haven’t eaten since breakfast? Pulling in to camp at 9 after 4 solid hours of driving in a rain storm?
A handful of nuts almonds or a square of 70% dark chocolate can be the saving grace that keeps you from tearing into that box of cookies.
A high quality (I choose high fat and protein, low carb) snack will help to keep your blood sugar balanced.
This will keep your brain sharp, which will help with important decision making, like what you should and should not eat.
Keep moving: Exercise for Vanlife
Driving and sitting down for long periods of time will slow down your metabolism and stiffen your joints
Make sure you take breaks for stretching & walking.
Have a workout routine you can follow, personally, I love to take the bikes off the rack and go for a ride in nature, but there are several other things you can do.
If you stay in the same country for longer periods, you might want to think about joining a nationwide gym chain, they often have great first time offers that can get your first month for free.
Joining a gym will get you regular showers, and while you are there you might as well get a nice pump going.
Running is also a personal favorite of mine, but again you need to make sure you can wash when you’re done.
If we are parked up next to a lake or the ocean I always go for a run, then jump in the water.
Drink plenty of water. Not soda, not juice, not Gatorade or other sugary drinks, just plain old water!
It works wonders and keeps away the urge to snack.
Maintaining, gaining or losing weight basic math, calories in vs. calories out, eating more than you burn will make you gain weight, and the classic snacks are heavy on calories, so control that urge.
Thanks for reading
Please comment below with your tips for vanlife diet & nutrition.
Got a question for Jens? Ask in the comments below.
Jens Fuglsang Møller is a Globetrotter – Writer – Coach – Personal Trainer & Author.
He has traveled through and lived in most of the major Asian countries and now does full-time VanLife in Europe, together with his wife.