How to Eat Like Paddler Pamela Boteler While on the Road
Part of the U.S. National Team in various paddle sports since 1992, Pamela Boteler has been making waves as a paddler for years. She made USA Canoe/Kayak history at the 2000 National Championships by becoming the first woman to compete in sprint canoe against the men, and Boteler was instrumental in motivating USA Canoe/Kayak to change its by-laws to allow women to compete at the National Championships in events of their own. Retired from Olympic-style high kneel canoeing due to knee surgery, Boteler competes in Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe racing with one of the top women's teams in the U.S., as well as Olympic-style kayaking and dragon boating.
Maintaining a rigorous training schedule and a low-fat raw vegan lifestyle about 80 percent of the time and an 100 percent vegan diet can be challenging, particularly on the road.
When it comes time to travel, Boteler plans ahead and packs fruit — so much of it that friends have nicknamed her the Fruit Lady. Boteler changes up what she packs depending on the destination, but she almost always packs dates and fills a shoe box with about 10 bananas, which can be eaten easily on the plane with little mess.
"I get the bananas to a ripeness that I like and put them in the refrigerator overnight so they can be firm and ripe when I eat them on the plane," said Boteler, who points out that the shoe box helps keep the bananas from getting smashed in-flight.
When embarking on a road trip, Boteler fills her truck with fruit. On a recent June trip to compete in a race in New York City, Boteler packed three watermelons and small ice chests to keep things like fresh-squeezed orange juice, grapes, and cut up watermelon cold during the drive. Bags with oranges, if in season, apples, and grape tomatoes are also staples.
"I like to mix grapes with grape tomatoes as it has a nice contrasting taste and it’s great pre-event food on a hot day," said Boteler.
The biggest challenge to eating healthy on the road is her schedule. Boteler works full-time as a management analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense and is president of WomenCAN International, which works tirelessly to promote gender equality in Olympic canoeing and the inclusion of women’s canoe events at the national level around the world.
"Having a travel schedule that is not really my own" is what Boteler says is the hardest part about maintaining her eating plan while on the road. From October through May this year, Boteler traveled extensively with the Department of Defense Executive Leadership Development Program. Her diet was put to the test as the group traveled to military bases around the world on seven- to 14-day trips, sometimes in remote locations, and the food options were limited to MREs or eating in base cafeterias. Access to fresh fruit was limited.
"For those who say, 'It's easy; you're just not working hard enough,' they've never been in this type of environment that I can tell, and I am not aware of any of them with military experience, where eating in a desired manner consistently every day is not possible," said Boteler. "I had to work within the environment I was in and just make intelligent choices, knowing it was short term."
When it comes to travel plans that she can control, like other athletes, Boteler packs as much as she can and stakes out where she is going for stores and markets. When she must dine in restaurants, she goes to Middle Eastern and Thai restaurants.
"I can always find fresh foods at these restaurants and they understand steaming vegetables versus killing them," said Boteler. At other restaurants, she works directly with waitstaff and pieces together side dishes off the menu and asks for a large salad in place of a side salad. Boteler does occasionally splurge by eating vegan desserts, particularly those made by her outrigger canoe teammates.
Planning ahead helps keep her motivated even when it is hard to find the right foods.
"I hate to lose. I hate feeling like crap," said Boteler.
Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.