Nutrition in addiction recovery, eating right while traveling

Bon Apetit

Graduate Blog: a travel, health and personal evolution lifestyle blog.

By Ryan Howsley Graduate

Exploring, traveling, and living in a van have had their fair share of rewards and a brand new set of daily challenges. Each day, my girlfriend and I are forced to eat with intention, and must remember to not be swayed by the power of convenience. Cooking healthy and satisfying meals with only one burner and two very different eating styles has certainly been a challenge that we are required to overcome.

To get the most out of my days, I know that eating right is a must. I am constantly on the move: surfing, skating, skiing, or whatever action-packed sober-activities I can conjure and I need the right fuel in my body to keep me moving. My van won’t run on an empty tank and neither will I. I like to think of myself as a little rocket. Rockets run on rocket fuel, not McDonalds, pizza and Red Bull. Putting the right fuel in my body is not only necessary, but also reinforces that I love and care for myself.

My eating habits have not always been “on-point” and the choice to eat chicken and rice over pizza does not come easily. Honestly, I am a fat kid at heart who had some pretty horrific eating habits. During my time at Tree House Recovery in Southern California, these habits had to change. Not only did my peers encourage healthy eating, but also the daily routine required that I “put up or shut up” or I would get left in the dust – literally. If I broke down and ate something that didn’t support my body, it would take one workout for me to recognize how much more drained my body was.

Now that I am living in my van full time and traveling in a foreign country (Baja, Mexico), my habits have further adapted to support my active lifestyle and opened up my palate. I have essentially been forced to try new foods, since the foods I like aren’t readily available in the middle of the desert. Driving down the coast of Baja, most towns that I’ve stayed in are fishing villages and “pescado” is consistently the main item on the menu. Seafood has never been a favorite of mine, but I’ve learned  to like some fish and other sea creatures. For example, at Bahia Concepcion I went clam digging directly in front of my palapa (cabana). With a bag full of ocean treasures, I fired up a pot of boiling water, and boom – lunch is served. Not only was it really fun learning how to find the clams, but lunch was both free and tasty. I can honestly say that was the first time in my life where I caught my own lunch — not at the grocery store, but in the wild. After lunch, not only did I have a full belly, but I was also rewarded by feelings of pride and accomplishment.

Nutrition and eating healthy is a choice. My newfound passion for life is fueled by adventure and extreme activities, and at the core of this new sober lifestyle is my diet. The saying “you are what you eat” is true and I honestly believe that my diet is a reflection of how I think about myself. If you think eating healthy with a full-sized kitchen is difficult, I challenge you to try cooking with only one burner, a handful of utensils and a bare pantry. Every meal requires more forethought and intention than I had ever experienced before living in the van and more than ever I want to cave-in and go for what is easy, but I know that will inevitably keep me from doing what makes me the happiest — so today, I choose to eat healthy.

Bon Apetit!

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