Eating on the Road


Most of the full time RV’ers I know are retirees.  How many folks in the workforce can really manage to work and RV at the same time; we aren’t all blessed with skills that can be done on the road.  The thing abour being a retiree is that a lot of us aren’t in perfect health and we’re dealing with dietary and other restrictions.  And I know darn well that a lot of us are carrying around more weight than we want to — or that the doctor wants us to carry.

I don’t know about you, but I love to eat.  Eating is what people seem to do when they are celebrating, when they are having fun with their friends, when they are relaxing.  Some of my fondest memories are of the familie around a table, laughing, eating, and enjoying life.

Unfortunately, my body no longer processes food as quickly, or as efficiently as it once did.  My meds have affected my metabolism, my age has affected my metabolism, and my activity level has definitely affected my metabolism — and in every case that’s been a downturn!!!!!!

When we go to a restaurant I almost cringe when looking at a menu.  My brain still wants to eat what it used to eat, but my body would almost always be satisfied with nothing more than an appetiser serving — and sometimes even the appetisers are way more than I need.  Not long ago we thought we were fooling the kitchen by ordering two appetisers and we couldn’t begin to finish even them!  Entrees are often way more than we need; and while I’m not a guy who makes a lot of desserts at home, I admit to liking a little sweet end to a restaurant meal so I’m sunk if I even look at the dessert list.  If it says bread pudding, or creme brulee I’m a goner.

A year ago when I realized I had more health issues than I thought I did, my specialist talked pretty agressivley about Clean Eating: less processed  foods, fewer ingredients (6 or less) and a lot of other stuff. I listened and tried to comprehend what we were talking about but we talked about a lot on those visits and I admit to foggy recall from those conversations.  Afterwards I started my research on “clean eating.” What I discovered was that like a lot of american food fads “clean eating” isn’t as clearly cut as it might be, and there’s a lot of BS about what to do and how and why.

What I have been able to understand is that there are some basic principles that can be applied to help stay healthier both for my personal health issues and in general.  Let me take a couple minutes and share because no one wants to go through life with an absolutely rigid menu, or regimen, or anything.  Life should have a little fun in it.  We should splurge from time to time.  There’s no sense in having a long life if you aren’t going to enjoy it, so learn some principles (not hard, fast rules) and find a way of going with the flow.

So, here are some ideas. Adjust them as it suits you. Please realize that for me, and for many other people with cardiac issues, salt intake is a particularly relevant issue and I may have an anti-salt bias here.

1. Limit Processed Foods

Many processed foods are full of excess sodium, sugar and fat. An easy way to clean up your diet is to look at the ingredient list on packaged foods. If the list is long or includes lots of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, try to stay away from it. Instead, make healthy homemade versions of your favorites, like macaroni and cheese, tomato sauce or granola bars. And remember that not everything that comes out of a box, bag or can is bad for you. For example, whole-wheat pasta, baby spinach and chickpeas are all relatively “clean” packaged foods. They are minimally processed and provide good-for-you nutrients like fiber and vitamins.

2. Bump Up Your Veggies

Vegetables are full of vitamins, with many boasting vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision and immune function, and vitamin K, which can help keep your bones healthy. Vegetables are also high in heart-healthy fiber, which helps you feel full. Plus, veggies are low in calories, so you can eat lots of them without damaging your waistline. Fresh vegetables are as clean as they come since they are unprocessed and come straight from the farm (just don’t forget to wash them before you eat them!). The recommended daily amount for most adults is 2½ to 3 cups. To make sure you get your fill, try carrots and hummus for a snack, start your meal with a salad, or begin your day with vegetables by adding peppers and onions to an omelet.

3. Cut Down on Saturated Fat

You don’t have to cut out fats when you’re eating clean; instead just focus on healthy fats. It’s as simple as swapping out saturated fats (like those in butter, cheese and meat) in favor of healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil and the kind found in nuts and fatty fish. These fats are good for your heart and can help raise your good HDL cholesterol, while saturated fats are associated with increased risk of heart disease and should be limited. Need help identifying fats? Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. To cut back on saturated fat in your diet, try these simple swaps: top your salad with nuts instead of cheese, use peanut butter instead of cream cheese and replace mayonnaise with avocado on a sandwich.

4. Reduce Alcohol Intake

Having a cleaner diet also includes cleaning up what you drink. You can still have alcohol, but stay within the recommended limit—one drink per day for women and two for men (one drink equals 5 ounces wine, 1½ ounces liquor or 12 ounces beer). Alcohol in moderate amounts may be good for your heart, but too much alcohol dehydrates you and adds excess calories to your diet. Steer clear of mixed drinks with lots of added sugar; it’s probably safe to assume that if your drink is neon-colored or came out of a frozen machine, it’s not all that clean.

5. Un-Sweeten Your Diet

Most people eat too many added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends no more than about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men. To clean up your diet, cut down on added sugars in your diet by limiting sweets like soda, candy and baked goods. Also keep an eye on sugars added to healthier foods like yogurt (choose plain varieties with no added sugar), tomato sauce and cereal. Look for foods without sugar as an ingredient, or make sure it’s listed towards the bottom, which means less of it is used in the food.

6. Watch the Salt

Eating too much salt can increase your blood pressure. Many Americans eat more than the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day (that’s about one teaspoon of salt). Cutting back on processed foods will help you reduce your salt intake, as most packaged foods contain more sodium than homemade versions. To help minimize salt while you cook, flavor your food with herbs and spices, citrus and vinegar.

7. Choose Whole Grains

Whole grains include more nutrients than refined grains because the bran and germ are not removed. Look for the word “whole” with the first ingredient in breads and pastas—for example, make sure it says “whole wheat,” not just “wheat.” Outside of whole wheat, choose whole grains like quinoa, oats and brown rice. Another bonus to eating whole grains: a study found that people who eat three or more servings of whole grains have lower body mass indexes and less belly fat than people who eat fewer.

8. Eat Less Meat

Eating clean doesn’t mean giving up on meat entirely, but eating less meat can help eliminate extra saturated fat from your diet. A serving of meat is just 3 ounces (the size of a deck of cards)—but portions served at restaurants and even at home tend to be larger than that. Try serving vegetarian proteins like beans, tempeh or tofu on some nights and bulking up smaller portions of meat by serving it in veggie-packed soups or stir-fries.

9. Up Your Fruit Intake

Fruit has been nicknamed “nature’s candy” for good reason—it’s naturally sweet and delicious. Fruit is also rich in potassium, which can help keep blood pressure in check, and vitamin C, which is important for a healthy immune system. And just like vegetables, fresh fruits are whole, unprocessed foods. Frozen, canned and dried fruit is minimally processed and can be a great clean-eating choice as well. Just double-check the ingredient list to be sure that there is no sugar added, and look for fruit canned in its own juice. The recommended amount of fruit for most adults is 1½ to 2 cups per day. To make sure you get the added heart-health and weight-loss benefits of fiber, choose whole fruits over fruit juice.

10. Nix Refined Grains

Cutting out white flour and refined grains is an easy way to eat cleaner. Refined grains—unlike whole grains—are more processed and often stripped of beneficial nutrients like magnesium, selenium and fiber. Plus, they’re typically found in unhealthy packaged foods, like baked goods and junky snack foods that may also deliver added sugars, saturated fats and extra sodium. Skip the packaged refined carbs like cookies, crackers and cakes altogether, and also swap white rice, white bread and white pasta for brown rice and whole wheat bread and pasta.

Hopefully, these tips have inspired you to clean up your diet.  I know I cringed when I first started trying to cut sodium from my diet; I thought I’d have a hard time of it.  Then I discovered that food has enough flavor without the salt.  Sugar as an add-on has never been an issue for me.  But… flour… now for me, that’s the hard one!!!!  I love my bakery.  But all things in moderation…

Have a great day, I’ll be here again tomorrow, why not stop by!

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12 Comments

    1. We don’t do a lot of processed foods at all. I find ourselves walking the aisles for exercise and out of nosiness to see what different stores might have but rarely buy what we aren’t interested in.

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  1. That works for me…I have been doing this for a couple of years now…fresh is best. I agree with the shopping the perimeter rule, though our stores have gluten free section in the middle, everything else is along the edges.

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    1. Free with fresh is best. Funny bout the different ways that stores stock their food. They truly are efficient in their techniques! funny that the old stores (before our times) had on average 300 items, now the average store has well over 20,000 items.

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      1. I recently read Frances Mayes book Under the Tuscan Sun. I find it interesting that a peoples can be so content with their own cuisine that they feel no need / desire to experiment. Not sure if that is part of what inhibits my interest in touring Italy. The French may be very francocentric but there seems to be more of a willingness to play with full. At least from my limited experience.

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      2. I think it depends on how you were raised or what influences played a part in your life. I was raised with foods from many lands, I experiment. Rick was very fixed in his food offerings and has extreme allergies…not very willing to try new things.

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      3. Of for sure! What we grow up with is — to us — “Normal”. Fortunately you and I had parents who exposed us to variety — and had the good fortune to have genes that didn’t rankle over ingredients. Life with food allergies would be infinitely different. But then, that’s partly why Rick is good with cars and stuff, while your interests are in other areas. All those things make us into who we are. And no apologies needed for being who we are. 🙂

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  2. For diabetics, it helps to cut out all grains–get your carbs from fruits and vegetables. Be aware that frozen fruits and veg can be healthier that fresh because they are frozen before shipping. Watch for sauces and juices in the frozen stuff, though–buy plain.

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    1. Good point, Linda — and true about the frozen veg often being fresher than the so-called ‘fresh’ They do, however, often contain SALT! That’s something I’m particularly noticing lately.

      This past year we have cut back our salt and sugar intake dramatically just by paying attention to ingredients.

      We never buy ANY product with pre-made sauces. That’s just not us.

      >

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  3. Your list is my list (except I cut out all refined sugar, gluten, and went to Himalayan Pink Salt). I am sedentary because of a chronic illness. I lost 30 pounds in a year, have more energy, and have been told my skin looks great. Glad you are on the same road. (BTW, “Natural” has no definition via Food and Drug Administration. Read all labels. You will be surprised!)

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