Staying healthy on the poker road

Always end up eating crap on the plane, crap in the mini bar and crap at the tournament? Late nights, junk food, boozing and screen time leaving you feeling run down, lethargic, hungover and susceptible to coughs and colds? Let´s face it, ladies, being on the road can often suck for your body. Plus all that sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed food just sets your poker face up for failure. Your genius strategy will be shot to pieces as your body just cannot cope with dazzling risk-taking moves while under attack from acid, carcinogenic, toxins and all manner of nasties. It´s time to cut the crap!

There is NO EXCUSE not to eat and drink healthily easily while you travel as a poker player. Choose the right travel foods, and you could be on a winning streak.

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1. Airport

Like fast food lighthouses serving as beacons for obesity, diabetes and heart disease, most airport food is to be avoided at all costs! On your way to your next game, here is what you can do instead:

DO

• Pack organic instant oats and miso soup sachets. All lounges have hot water available.
• Stock up on fresh fruits, dried fruits, raw nuts and seeds.
• Pack some green powders like wheatgrass, barleygrass or spirulina, and wrap it in cling film, then just add to water for an energy buzz between flights. Alkalinity is the key to fight acid inflammation.
• Hydrate with 1L of water per every 22kg you weigh.

DON´T

• Drink more than one coffee, or your cortisol and adrenal levels will be shot to bits, especially between time zones. Ditto for getting beers and whiskey chasers in the club lounge. Stay clean and clear before your big game.

2. In Transit

Taking a plane, bus, car, coach, boat, or train to the tourney?

DO

• Grab some basic yogurt, salad, smoothie or juice and spice it up with some sexy chia seeds. These little Amazonian beauties swell up to quadruple their size and are full of essential proteins and Omega 3 fats.
• Travelling locally? If you are not flying, then pack a cool bag. Ice packs keep your homemade organic foods fresh and tasty.
• A humble lemon is your best friend. Ask the cabin crew for a knife; slice and squeeze into hot water for instant liver detoxification.
• Sprinkle nutritional yeast over your food to make it taste cheesy in a healthy vegan kind of way.

DON´T

• Grab convenience food in the gas stations, train stations or bus stations. A Big Gulp, corn dog, quart of chocolate coated peanuts and slushy is NOT what your delicate digestive system needs before a big tourney. Choose a mineral water and smile smugly while your companions head for the bathroom for an evacuation. Your colon is perfect.

3. Hotel

Before your next No Limit Hold'em, rethink your diet for extra energy, vitality and staying power.

DO

• Pack almond or cashew nut butter; try a nice brand like Artisan or Melrose, a billion times better than over-processed peanut butters. Full of good fats and a protein powerhouse, dip celery, other veg crudities, apple slices, flax crackers or lick naked off the spoon.

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• Bring a travel blender. Philips has a cute little green bullet-sized one. Room service is often full of overpriced rubbish. Pack raw protein powder, go buy some fresh fruit and veg from the grocer or local market as soon as you check in, chuck in a bit of cacao, hemp, chia seeds, nut butter, flax oil, ice from the mini bar, and voila, green smoothie heaven. Pack your own plastic mason beaker for slurping smugness.

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• Make your own raw trail mix before you go, and pack it in your suitcase. I use nuts, seeds, dried fruits, dried super foods like goji berries, oats, whole grains (yes, you can munch on quinoa, millet, bulgar wheat, amaranth, and spelt raw). Either eat raw or gently roast at a low temperature in the oven to cut and pack into little bars, or pack loose to sprinkle over cereals and berries.

• Make easy raw chocolate. Bring 1 cup of coconut oil, add half a cup of raw cacao powder, and add stevia or raw honey, and salt to taste, then stick in the mini bar for 20 minutes until set. Boom! You've got raw, guilt-free sugar free, crap-free chocolate.

• Advance-make raw chocolate brownies. Use 1 cup blended nuts whizzed up with an S-blade, add half cup raw cacao powder, 1 cup dates. You`ve made raw brownies with 3 ingredients. Refrigerate, cut into squares, and pack in your hand luggage. Beats the 3am Toblerone purchase.

• Buy apple cider vinegar from your supermarket. Drink one cap in water everyday to neutralise acid from your late-night club hopping.

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• Ask for green juice at the breakfast juice bar. Unlike high-sugar fruit juice, green juice is 80 percent vegetable, so it's non-yeast forming and restores the body´s natural PH. Of course, fruit juice is still good for you; just choose sparingly and make up a sexy cocktail.

DON´T

• Don´t throw away that spare coconut oil. Slather it on your face as a moisturiser, shave your legs (or anything else) with it, gargle it for clean gums, condition your hair with it, combine it with baking soda and peppermint essential oil to make your own toothpaste, or add it to corn starch or flour to act as a natural deodorant. Natural cosmetics can come from ONE ingredient.

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• Don´t drink more than one coffee. Choose green tea packed with antioxidants.

4. Three Easy Travel Recipes

So whether you like mixed games, women-only events, PLO, or are just grabbing a spontaneous super satellite, be prepared with the fuel to feed your body.

Avocado Toast

• Try to source Ezekiel bread wherever you go. Take your slice down to breakfast and pop it in the toaster. This bread is gluten-free, low-carb, high-protein and made from live sprouted grains. Then grab a half an avocado off the salad bar and mash. Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and a pinch of hot pepper to taste. The perfect bit of protein, carbs, essential good fats, salts and low GI sugars.

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Green Smoothie

In your travel blender, whizz up this nutritious, mineral-full, enzyme-busting, pro-alkaline, anti-inflammatory glass of heaven.

• Handful of greens like kale, spinach
• Handful of soft fruit, like banana
• The other half of the avocado you stole from breakfast for your green toast
• Almond butter teaspoon
• Rock salt
• Water or ice
• Almond milk optional (recipe to make your own below)
• Chia tablespoon
• Wheatgrass powder teaspoon
• 1 scoop raw protein powder, optional
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil
• Raw cacao or organic cocoa, 1 heaped teaspoon

Almond Milk

• 1 cup raw almonds soaked overnight
• 3 cups of water
• Salt and raw honey or stevia to taste

So there we have it. Just consider that you´ve come a long way to your event, you´ve played all the qualifiers, and secured your seat; it seems a shame to flush it all away by not respecting your body´s needs. Prepare, plan and purchase! I always travel with these other essentials, and buy water, fruit and veg locally as soon as I arrive.

Carry:

• Travel blender
• Mini chopping board
• Knife
• Green powder
• Protein powder
• Green tea powder
• Raw nuts, seeds, dried fruits
• Cacao powder or nibs

Buy:

• Lemons
• Avocadoes
• Apples
• Bananas
• Kale or spinach

All photos courtesy of @saravarelaraw on Instragram.

Sara Varela
@PokerStars in PS Women