Nutritionist Mia Syn knows every girl craves some adventure and Burning Man offers just that. But in the middle of the desert where temperatures commonly exceed 100 °F and reach 40 °F lows, it’s important to fuel accordingly in order to maintain good health and keep energized. With a master’s degree in nutritional science from Columbia University and a site dedicated to women’s nutrition featuring deliciously healthy recipes, Mia’s to here to take the guesswork out of nutrition in desert conditions. She tells Travelle all about fueling your body at Burning Man.
What’s the most important thing to remember at Burning Man when it comes to nutrition?
Stay hydrated! When facing the desiccating Nevada heat, hydration should be your utmost priority. While the current recommendation calls for 2.7 L per day for adult women, you should aim for nearly 1.5 gallons daily since you are more prone to sweating and dehydration in extreme heat. Carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times and make sure your trailer or tent is stocked with enough to keep you hydrated for the week (don’t forget to account for cooking water!).
Is there anything we should avoid eating?
Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in and your body does not have enough to carry out normal functions. Drinks like coffee, alcohol, and soda cause more harm than good when you are facing desert conditions. Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, abdominal pain, light-headedness, fevers, and vomiting. Stick to water and whole foods to keep feeling your best.
What’s the best way to stay energized?
Eat electrolyte rich foods. Electrolytes are minerals that help us stay healthy by maintaining fluid balance and muscle function. Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from our body, which must be replaced. Besides the traditionally touted energy drinks, look to natural sources of electrolytes like coconut water, bananas, yogurt, nuts, beans, and whole-wheat crackers for sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride.
How should we plan our meals?
You’ll want to eat small portions and eat often. Your body will be under stress from the beating hot sun. Avoid hot and heavy meals, which can add heat to your body and instead stick to smaller and frequent meals spaced evenly throughout the day. For lunch and dinner choose quality protein sources like canned tuna or canned wild salmon which are easy to pack and don’t require preparation. Vegetarians can opt for lentils, beans, tempeh, tofu, edamame, and pre-cooked quinoa.
And if we’re looking to snack?
A good rule of thumb when preparing a snack is pairing quality carbohydrates like fruit or whole grains with protein and some healthy fat to keep satiated and energy levels steady. Think fruit with a hardboiled egg, homemade trail mix made with nuts and dried fruit, veggies with hummus or my portable energy bites.
What nutrition tips do you recommend to help protect our skin from desert conditions?
Eat your sunscreen. Ok not literally, but there are some foods that offer sun protectant qualities and you’ll need all the help you can get at nearly 4000 feet above sea level where you burn faster and more severely. Besides the obvious (lots of sunscreen), bring foods like tomatoes, grapes, salmon, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, and even chocolate, all which have been shown to offer some skin protection against UV rays.
So what does a sample day of food for a woman at Burning Man look like?
- Breakfast: Quick cooking oats with fruit and nuts
- Snack: Portable energy bites or homemade trail mix
- Lunch: Whole grain wrap with canned tuna and veggies or pita with hummus and veggies
- Snack: Apple and peanut butter
- Dinner: Egg or tofu veggie scramble
- Dessert: Apples with cinnamon baked over the fire
- (*plus plenty of water throughout the day!)
How can we make our own portable energy bites?
This is a simple and tasty recipe for portable and healthy energy bites that you can prepare before heading to the desert. Pack a few in your bag and enjoy when you need a little energy boost during the day!
Yield: 8-10 energy bites
1/3 cup oats
½ cup nuts (almonds, walnuts etc.)
Toppings: Unsweetened shredded coconut, hemp seeds
In a food processor, pulse your nuts and oats into small pieces.
Add your dates and pulse until it creates a sticky mixture.
Form your mixture into 8-10 balls.
Roll the balls in hemp seeds and/or shredded, unsweetened coconut (if desired)
Check out Burning Man Body Care for more tips!