Time To Think

time to think

I want to talk about the fork for just minute, your fork.  It is quite an astonishing fact that over 300,000 Americans die annually of diseases, or complications of diseases that are diet-related.  In fact, diet-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancers, strokes, diabetes and osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and cholesterol are, or are among, the top killers of Americans. 

New research says that one out of every three people diagnosed with coronary artery disease before age 40 dies within 15 years.  The death rate was nearly two out of three for those with diabetes. Study author Dr. Joe Miller III, an assistant professor of preventative cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, says, “Their mortality rate is so dramatic. A third of them were dead at follow-up.  It’s a little shocking.”

If you are under 40 and at risk for heart disease because of diabetes or obesity, or simply because you eat the Standard American Diet, you’d better get serious about taking better care of yourself.  Just a little over two years ago, I decided to get serious about taking better care of myself (better late than never). At age 30, I realized that I couldn’t coast on my relative youth forever. I began to fear that if I continued on eating as I was, I would end up having a heart attack, or developing cancer. 

Man, I haven’t got time for the pain of these diseases!  I don’t have the time to go through surgery, or chemotherapy, and recovery.  I don’t have the time to sit in doctors’ offices, or on the toilet all constipated, and crabby. (I guess that gives literal meaning to the descriptive phrase, “anal retentive”, doesn’t it?)  Life is too short as it is, to spend it all depressed, or in less than good health. Moreover, I can’t afford the cost of all the medicine, and I am not overly excited about dying before my time. 

In many ways, it all gets down to the fork, or what we shovel into our mouths with our forks, meal after meal.  Thomas Moffett, author of Health’s Improvement, in 1600 A.D. wrote, “Men dig their graves with their own teeth and die more by those fated instruments than the weapons of their enemies.”  Think about that for a minute, because it is true.  Around 55,000 American troops were lost in the Vietnam War over a period of approximately 8 years. Compare that to 300,000 Americans lost per year to diet-related diseases!

Robert Siegal, talking about his diet in Erik Marcus’ book Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, says this, “Some people like to tell me that the way I eat is radical.  Well I think it’s radical when they take you into the hospital on a gurney and they decide you need a $40,000 operation. I think it’s radical when they saw your ribs open and then they take pieces of artery from your legs and they sew them onto your heart.  That’s radical. Eating beans and delicious vegetables and grains is not radical.”

There are decisions to be made.  In other words, you have come to the proverbial “Fork in the Road.”  Stop digging your grave with your fork, and start digging into delicious fruits and vegetables! One option is to become vegetarian all together, or vegan (no animal meat or dairy products).  There is a price to pay for ignorance, whether it is well intentioned or willful.  Even the Bible says that people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6) 

Proverbs warns us not to crave the rich food.  It says “When you go to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, that food it is deceptive.” (Proverbs 23:3) Is it worth it to go on eating the deadly deceptive rich Standard American Diet?  

Jesus said, “…wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)  In this country, a.k.a., Fat Land, there is a growing epidemic of obesity. Are you on the wide road that leads to destruction?  If you are, get off of it now! I got off of that road 2 years ago, and it has made all the difference.

My friend, you have come to a fork in the road.  In the words of Muriel Stode, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  In the words of Robert Frost, “Take the Road Less Traveled.”

Related: Eat Healthy While Traveling

How To Eat Well While Traveling A Lot

Eath healthy while traveling

I like to take road trips. I think I get my knack for traveling from my Dad.  He always said it was his goal was to “travel every road” in his lifetime, so growing up I took many long trips back and forth across the United States in the back seat of my parent’s car.

Now I am behind the wheel, and I’ve started to take my children on such road trips.  My goal is not to see and do it all, but when I took my children on our first road trip to Colorado last summer, I think I caught the traveling bug… 

It was great to see the countryside, and twice the adventure to travel, now that we are a vegetarian family. No more roadside stops for quick hunger fixes at standard American fast food restaurants. That’s a good thing, because there is some truth to the saying, “When you see the Golden Arches, you’re almost to the Pearly Gates.” Even McDonald’s these days warns consumers that their food can be hazardous to your health! 

I’ve been asked if we stick to our dietary routine even when we are traveling away from home.  The answer is yes!  And we have great fun preparing for our road trips! With some thoughtful preparation, it is not difficult to eat well on the road, even for an extended vacation!

We own a Volkswagen Euro van Weekender, which makes traveling and living on the road so easy and fun.  There is plenty of room. It is our home away from home. It has a refrigerator, a table, screen windows, and curtains. The back seat unfolds into a queen-sized bed, and the top pops up into a tent with a double mattress! Here’s how we prepare for our road trips:

Basic Necessities

Eath healthy while travelingStart with a picnic basket, and fill it with some basic necessities. I went to a thrift store and picked up the following items:

  • Plastic reusable plates, bowls, and cups (one set for each traveler)
  • Forks, spoons, knives (one set for each traveler)
  • Spatula
  • Can opener
  • Sharp knife
  • Measuring cup
  • Some kind of food storage container for mixing, serving, or storing food
  • Small bottle of liquid dish soap
  • Sponge to wash dishes
  • Dishtowel to dry dishes
  • Plastic bags (recycled grocery bags)
  • Glass & surface cleaner (use to clean the table after eating)
  • Paper Towels
  • Onion powder

I pack the dish soap and sponge in a plastic bag.  The sponge will be wet after clean up, and the soap may spill if not closed properly. The extra plastic bags are used to put dirty dishes in to carry them into the rest stop sink to wash up.  You need a clean plastic to put the dishes in after you wash them.

Dry Goods

Next, I pack a storage box of dry, shelf-stable foods that are instant, or very simple and quick to prepare.  I pack items such as Fantastic instant refried beans, taco mix, or hummus—basic ingredients in three very simple meals. All you need is to reconstitute with hot water.  I also pack organic corn tostadas, or taco shells, or whole-wheat pita pocket bread.  Another vegetarian family I know likes to travel with the instant soup or mashed potato bowls, also by Fantastic Foods.  Again, it is easy to reconstitute these with hot water, and they make tasty, healthy meals!

Here’s is a list of other yummy items we might pack in our food box:

  • Dried fruit (like plums, figs, dates, mangos, raisins, apple rings, papaya or pineapple)
  • Nuts & seeds (like almonds, macadamia nuts, mixed nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds)
  • Fruit leathers by Stretch Island
  • Odwalla Bars
  • Wha Guru Chews by Golden Temple
  • Oskri Organic sesame bars
  • Bumble Bars
  • Dark chocolate
  • Cereal, or granola
  • Organic, Non-GMO Soy milk (in aseptic boxes)

In the Refrigerator

I’ve noticed that even Target now carries car refrigerators. So if you don’t drive a Euro van, there is no reason to despair!  If you don’t have room for a small refrigerator in your car, you can always stop at any grocery store and buy what you need in small quantities to use in a single meal for your family, or keep these items in a cooler. These are the types of items we are likely to have in our refrigerator when we travel:

  • Natural peanut butter
  • Organic fruit spread
  • Salsa
  • Salad Dressing
  • Organic soy milk (opened ascetic box)
  • Fresh fruit, veggies
  • Avocados
  • Spring mix salad (pre-washed in bag)
  • Left overs?

It is also important to travel with at least one gallon of purified drinking water!  We start out with a jug when we leave home, and fill it up or buy more as needed. Having fresh, pure water on hand is another one of those basic necessities.

There’s one more item we take along on our road trips. Actually, it stays in the car all of the time as a reference book, and you just never know when it will come in handy. That would be our Edible Wild Plants Field Guide.  Last year, when we were in Colorado, my 10-year old son identified the Yucca plant that was growing all over in the ditches and around lakes as an edible wild plant.  We actually gathered the blossoms of this plant and made a Waldorf-style salad with the boiled petals, almonds, raisins, apples, and celery and soy mayonnaise. We prepared, and shared, our salad with our neighbors back at the campground!

With a little planning, some creativity, an adventurous spirit, and ingredients like these, it is easy to pull into a rest stop, and make simple, healthy meals for yourself and your traveling companions.  Whether it is breakfast time, lunchtime, dinnertime, or you just want a snack, having the basic necessities and some basic good ingredients make it possible to stick to your healthy diet, even when you are on the road.  

Also, feel free to check Dr. Josh Axe’s tips for eating healthy while traveling too: