Burning Man is an event that takes loads of preparation…everything from your costumes, lighting, transportation, communicating logistics with friends, and various other things, but what I didn’t realize was how important healthy nutrition really is. Having poor nutrition can make the difference of a great Burning Man experience and an adversely negative experience. You could have chronic low energy, be in a grumpy mood, sluggish and tired, and consistently going to the washroom. Bottom line, is that if you want to make the most out of Burning Man, you should plan to have the best nutrition as possible. Here’s 8 mistakes I made with my nutrition at burning man and the lessons you can learn:
1. I left my meal plan in the hands of Trader Joe’s employee
When planning my burning man I left my eating to the very last priority. This was a huge mistake. I thought I had it all figured out when I walked into Trader Joe’s (a healthy food chain in the USA), a nice woman approached me asking if I needed help. I immediately asked her what the other Burning Man people bought, and right away we were off going up and down the isles under her guidance. While I love Trader Joe’s, their people, and their products, I was walking myself into a ticking time bomb. How did I know that the other Burning Man people had any knowledge of what healthy eating is? Or that this nice woman knew what my health habits were? I didn’t clarify anything, and therefore I was shown a bunch of non-healthy foods that I would later regret…taco’s with refried beans, white pasta, pre-cooked bacon, and an array of other foods filled with sugar, grain, processed carbs, etc. Lesson: Clarify with the food store clerks what healthy diet habits you have.
2. I didn’t clarify what cooking equipment my camp had
Arriving at our camp, I figured I could just store my food in my kitchen and have a fully stocked kitchen. Not quite. I soon found that I had to borrow plates, pots, pans, and utensils. I also didn’t realize the importance of having my own cooler, where I could organize my food and keep it cold with ice. I merely had Trader Joe bags, and an Ikea bag…obviously not good in the desert humidity and dust. Furthermore, there was someone who brought their own BBQ and had a bunch of steaks he could throw on the grill. I was super jealous. Last but no least, having my own portable travel blender would’ve been great for making healthy green smoothies and getting nutrients easily and quickly. Lesson: Ask your camp leader what equipment they’ll have in your kitchen, and bring a BBQ and travel blender if possible.
3. I didn’t pre-cook my meals
I remember spending about 1 hour cooking a meal, and another person in the camp comes along, grabs a pre-cooked meal, puts it in a pot for a few minutes and its ready moments later! Not only was it easy to make the meal, but he got a meal that’s filled with nutrients and probably costs the same or cheaper then my pre-packaged meal. Easier, Faster, more Nutritious, and Cheaper. Sounds good to me. Lesson: Make a bunch of meals before hand that match your healthy dietary habits, and then you’re prep time is in a fraction of the time.
4. I didn’t bring enough raw foods
Sure it was nice to have a nice cooked meal but I envied the other people in the camp that were having the healthy raw foods, such as salads. Not only would the food prep time be minimized, but the healthy raw state of the vegetables would’ve been a great nutrient blast to my body. Lesson: Bring more raw foods and store them in your cooler for easy/healthy meals.
5. I didn’t have enough energy bars to last the entire night.
One of the things I did well, was I brought energy bars and took one with me to last through the night. I bought Cliff Bars, but I’m sure there’s healthier options (Trader Joe’s has tons of options at cheap prices). The problem was that I ran out of these energy bars early into Burning Man, and could’ve taken 2 of them each night. I had the right idea, but I didn’t bring enough of them. Lesson: Buy healthy energy bars (or make your own), and bring enough for each night you’re there.
6. I didn’t drink enough water
There’s a saying at Burning Man that says: Drink enough water your pee is clear. Basically this means that if it’s not clear, you’re dehydrated, so drink enough water. At one point, a friend in our camp told me that if you’re dehydrated then one of the side effects is grumpiness. Once he told me this, I immediately amped up my water intake, drinking 2-3 X the water I normally drink on a daily basis. The difference was immediately noticed, my mood returned, and I felt much better. Lesson: Bring a camel bak or a container that is big enough to hold more then enough water, because most the camps may not have cups/containers.
7. I over-indulged in sugary treats
While your at Burning Man, if you’re hungry/thirsty you’re going to be at a point where you’re trying to find anything that’s edible and drinkable in order to survive. Certain camps will give away sugar filled treats, drinks, and other super unhealthy food. At the time it seems like a great choice, but when you’re blood sugar levels spike quickly and then dive, you’re mood, mindset, and attitude are going down along with it. Do yourself a favour and resist these treats as much as possible, or face the consequences. Lesson: Eat properly so you’re well nourished and you don’t fall prey to the sugar filled treats.
8. I didn’t know about the other camps that had set meal plans
Several days into Burning Man, we rode our bikes to a friends camp. We soon discovered that she had professional chefs making meals for their entire camp. They had vegan only options, gluten free options, and other dietary considerations available to them. The food at these camps was apparently excellent. The only draw-back to these meal ready camps is that you have to return to your camp at the designated meals times (or you’re missing your meal). All in all, if you’re looking to have a professionally cooked meals, this is the way to go. Lesson: Find out which camps have set meals, and see what dietary considerations they have.