I'm an absolute believer in listening to your body as it communicates exactly what it needs at any given time. After all, our bodies are nothing short of amazing in what they can do, so who am I to ignore the inner yearning for an high-energy breakfast, a grounding home-cooked meal or a liquid lunch for a digestive break. And fortunately, we live in a society where nutrient-rich foods and almost every supplement and superfood on the market is within arms reach. Something I sadly admit to have taken for granted, up until the first few months of my trip.
On previous travels, I just went with the flow. I ate whatever I wanted, used the "I'm on holiday" excuse, despite being away for up to 10 months at a time, and tried everything that came my way. And my health (and weight) paid the price. This time around, I embarked on my trip with a new health-focused mindset and a year of eating clean, nourishing food under my belt, alongside a daily green juice addiction. Travelling around Central and South America on a backpacker budget was going to be one hell of a challenge. And that, it has been.
I started out with all the right intentions. Leaving Sydney, you would have thought I was planning to set up shop overseas; My day bag getting on the plane contained bags of nuts, seeds, boxes of green tea, about 8 blocks of Loving Earth chocolate, chia seeds, Vital Greens, oregano oil, coconut oil, raw bars.. the list goes on! I started off on the right foot, and travelling through the UK and North America was a breeze, as I whipped out my travel blender each morning and started each day in green smoothie heaven. But about three months in, we hit the Caribbean and things didn't quite flow exactly as they used to. Budgets got tighter, healthy meal options became harder to find, and kitchens at hostels became either barren of all equipment or non-existent. Finding leafy greens became something to celebrate as the smell of fried-everything follows you through all of Central America and you are left feeling as though you've spent half your day trying to dodge all the hidden sugars - oh yeah, because over here sugar is literally in EVERYTHING!
I've come to realise that for my whole life, I've had food at my fingertips. Real, nourishing, wholefood. Whenever I wanted it. Any cuisine, any time of day - we are absolutely spoiled for choice. Yet it took me a stint in Latin America to really grasp the concept and feel that utmost gratitude for what I miss most about home. Don't get me wrong - travel is a huge part of me and with that includes trying new cuisines, dining with the locals and embracing all the culinary delights of everywhere I go. But my health is and will always be my number one priority and it's my responsibility to look after my body and feed it exactly what it needs. And for me, that is a diet overflowing with leafy greens and veggies, good quality animal protein when my body craves it, and a big no-no to sugar and dairy.
So as I try to make the best of every situation and give my body as much nourishment as I can whist I am on this epic journey, I also know that forever I will be grateful for the food at my fingertips; the endless resources available to me to make the best decisions possible; and the life-altering experiences I have been fortunate enough to have that help me appreciate the life I live every single day.