And, more interestingly, why I developed this list and how a source of personal shame morphed into a source of strength.
In January, Google Analytics told me that one of my most read posts that month was one I’d created about backpacking on a gluten free, dairy free diet, which isn’t nearly as hard as most people imagine. And it certainly need not be a reason that keeps you off trail!
So I got to thinking about my origins with creating healthier backpacking food alternatives and it’s a story that feels worth sharing. If you have something in your life that you’ve perceived as a weakness or flaw that holds you back, my hope is that this will help you see it through a new lens.
If you’re here for the gluten free, dairy free backpacking meal and snack ideas, you can find that whole juicy list + my tips for backpacking on a “restricted diet” here.
If you’re here for the story behind the list, read on.
After finishing the PCT in 2014, I discovered I had an autoimmune condition that destroyed my energy levels and threatened my backpacking dreams.
Before attempting the CDT a few years later, I needed to develop a gluten free, dairy free, grain free trail menu to minimize inflammation and keep my symptoms at bay if I were to have any chance at finishing the trail.
And it worked. I finished the trail in less than 100 days and mostly felt great the entire time.
So I shared my approach to healthy eating on trail because I knew there must be others looking for an alternative to the typical hiker fare.
And I received a lot of appreciation but also a lot of people projecting their judgment of their own food choices onto me (“Don’t tell Salty, I’m eating this Snickers”… why would I care?).
At the time, I unconsciously internalized some of that shame and felt embarrassed for having to eat “differently” to feel well enough to hike.
Fast forward years later, I see that my autoimmune condition was an invitation to take exquisite care of myself.
And you know what?
I love that about myself.
Yes, I eat differently and go to bed early and measure my resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and blood sugar each morning and…
I LOVE IT.
Because those practices ensure I have the energy to do so many amazing things in my life like hike long distances and build a business and have thriving relationships.
Now if folks have issues with how I eat, live etc., or want to project their self judgment onto me, they’re just not my people, and that’s perfectly okay. I don’t need anyone else to approve of how I eat because I approve of how I eat. And I know it allows me to live the type of life I want to live.
Perhaps you too have a perceived shortcoming that contains a hidden gift?
PS: this is not bypassing feeling the suck of a painful circumstance. It’s feeling the feelings and intentionally choosing how I want to feel about the circumstance instead.
If you feel called to share, I’d love to hear if you can relate.