First let’s talk about what not to eat. We now know that to supply more oxygen to the brain ( or else you start seeing things), muscle tissue, heart, lungs, in fact to every cell, our body will need to suspend its mundane duties like digestion. And it hopes that you show the wisdom of not eating processed, sodium-loaded food, which other than loading your stomach will also load the pretty valleys and hillside with ugly plastic wrappers. Just like garbage-filled hills take away from the natural beauty of the HImalaya, eating the contents inside that plastic takes away from your physiological adaptations.
At higher altitudes, as the air gets drier and as the resting heart rate increases, the body gets dehydrated quickly. One of the ways in which our body responds to altitude is by storing more sodium in its cells, allowing it to hold on to more fluids. Eating processed food that is loaded on sodium disturbs the natural balance that the body is trying to bring about and leads to bloating and swelling, specially of the extremities like the feet and fingers. Other than coming in the way of your adaptation response this can just take the edge out of your holiday because soon this leads to headaches, diarrhoea etc.
So when in the Himalaya, just follow these three basic guidelines: –
1. Don’t eat or drink anything that comes out of plastic be it juice or biscuits/chips/noodles.
2. Eat half the quantities (eat smaller meals more frequently) that you eat at sea level and drink twice the amount of water.
3. Eat local Food-Jeera Aloo, Dal Chawal, Rajma, Momos, Thukpa ( So much better than instant noodles), Kuttu ki Roti, Namkeen chai, local dry fruits like walnuts and apricot, Dahi, Siddhu, poori, etc.
Just these three will ensure that you are in a zone to let the body carry out its magic work and turn your body into a fat-burning machine. This way you will get less tired as you climb and also get thinner.
Some food items you can carry with you from home to optimize the body’s fat-burning abilities:
5. Fruits and dry fruits
All homemade, of course.
Some people who come on GP’s treks scold him for faking my involvement in planning meals on his trips. Which dietician in her right frame of mind would ask us to drink rhododendron juice (so sweet), eat potatoes (so fattening), rice (so much carbs) and Rajma (so rich), they say? But come on, you know that not only is this misinformation about the nutrients in these foods, but also about the adaptation process the body goes through. Trekking itself doesn’t burn fat, but following the RT and eating local is what puts the body in the right frame and gear to burn fat.Honestly, you don’t need a dietician to eat right on a trek; then again, if you feel trekking is all about a free pass to instant noodles and endless chocolate, then what you need is a slap, oops, education.
Read more about Himalayas in the book – “The land of Flying Lamas” by Gaurav Punj