A healthy guide to summer festivals

July 15 2016

Festival food isn’t what it used to be. The days of dodgy hot dogs and dismal burgers from grubby looking vans have been replaced with an amazing array of ribs and wraps, pulled pork and paella, and more kale, wheatgrass and falafel than an entire chain of health food shops.

But despite the improvements in the quality of the food, a trip to V Festival, Latitude, Green Man or Reading still doesn’t guarantee a weekend of healthy eating. The beer and burgers may now be craft ales and aged Scottish beef, but they still pack a hefty punch when it comes to calories and saturated fat.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips and suggestions to make sure you don’t pile on the pounds while you’re soaking up the sounds.

Exercise!

It’s not all about denying yourself and eating carrot sticks while your friends dig into pies and pancakes. Balance is key. Be aware of what you’re eating and be on the lookout for opportunities to work it off, of which there will be plenty.

If you fancy some pancakes and syrup from regular festival goers The Breakfast Club’s stall, that’s a 279 calorie start to your day. But with morning yoga classes become increasingly common at festivals, you can easily cancel that out with an hour on the mat. If you’re headed to Latitude, the Solas sanctuary offers treatments, classes and workshops all based around general wellbeing, the perfect counterbalance to any hedonism you dabbled in the night before.

Stopping off for lunch at another classic, Pieminister, and grabbing their Chicken of Aragon is an impressive 583 calories. But walking for two hours will cancel that out and then some, and anyone who’s been to the bigger festivals will know that a two-hour schlep through mud is nothing out of the ordinary.

And if dinner time approaches and you can’t resist the ultimate Anna Mae Mac ‘n’ Cheese (who could?!), her Mackney Wick will add a hefty 942 calories to your total. Luckily, the one thing more plentiful at festivals than mud is music and music leads to dancing and dancing leads to burning about 450 calories per hour. Moshing is even better so get right up the front and let your inner metalhead loose. Just watch out for all those flailing elbows!

Bring your own

Queues aren’t just for the showers and the toilets. The wait for the food stalls can seem never-ending so make sure to bring a good supply of your own healthy snacks to keep you going. Stocking up from the bulk bins at health food shops is a great way to keep up your energy levels and prevent you from filling up on fried and fatty foods whenever you feel hungry. Go for cashews, Brazil nuts, coconut chips, raisins and oats and combine your favourites together in resealable bags. Add some nut milk and you’ve got a healthy breakfast to get you started on the right note.

Stay hydrated

It’s important to drink more than just craft ales or scrumpy cider if you want your body to be in any kind of working order, so make sure to always have a bottle of water on hand. Check the festival’s site in advance to see if there are taps or fountains and if the water is drinkable. If it is, bring a water bottle with you. If not, bring a supply of water, as buying it on site for an entire weekend will be pricey.

Healthy options

As tasty as they might be, you don’t have to eat pulled pork or pizza for every meal over the weekend. Do some research before you go to see what food stalls will be there and seek out the less calorific options. There’s nothing wrong with a treat, but festivals have such a varied selection these days that it’s easy to eat well. And it’s not just about low fat and low calories. If you want to keep going well into the early hours, you’re going to need slow-release energy to get you there. Look for options that include wholegrains, pulses, couscous or hummus or go for a steak sandwich over a processed burger.

Think about your drink

Beers and ciders are the cornerstone of British music festivals but they’re packed full of calories. An IPA can have in the region of 400 calories in a pint, while a pint of cider has 200, the calorific equivalent of a doughnut. Six pints a day over three days and that’s 18 doughnuts. Vodka with soda and lime (96 calories) or gin and slim line tonic (114 calories) are lighter options, while white wine has around 120. Don’t forget your water though!