I confess, perhaps our biggest day-to-day challenge of living on the road is preparing healthy and nutritious meals while we're traveling.
Please keep reading to the end. I am looking for help here .. especially from those of you who use the Instant Pot.
After a full day of driving, shooting video, taking photographs, editing hiking, exploring, interviewing and doing all the things we have to do to create content for our various projects, neither Jennifer or I have a lot of time to prepare our food in the RV. Yes, we take food from home and we do make as many meals ahead of time that we can bring in the small freezer of our RV, but after a few days they're gone and we either have to eat out or prepare our own.
I've been working really hard since last fall in losing weight and eating right and exercising. So I don't want to sabotage the excellent results I've had by going for quick and easy, i.e., fast food.
I've written before that the RV Lifestyle isn't necessarily the most healthy lifestyle. There is a terrible thing called Sitting Disease. Yes, there really is such a disease. And its reached epidemic proportions, linked to all sorts of other ailments, the first and foremost of which is obesity.
But the fact is, the average American these days sits – at a desk, in the car or RV or on a couch – nearly eight hours every day. Sitting. Planted. Not moving. A thick and growing-thicker-by-the-day body of medical research is documenting terrible health effects from all this.
I am always at the computer, blogging, updating social media, writing and answering email. But added to that is all the time I have spend driving my RV over the past couple of years. Last year, I drove 35,000 miles across North America, doing stories about the interesting people and places encountered.
Many days, I was behind the wheel 12 hours, only to stop for the night and sit right back down to edit photos and video and write a story for the blog.
You still may be laughing at the term “sitting disease.” Don't. No less an authority than the Mayo Clinic talks about it.
The experts are seriously concerned about the problem. That's because when you sit for a long periods of time – over four hours – your body literally starts to shut down at the metabolic level, according to Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri. It gets worse. When muscles—especially the big ones meant for movement, like those in your legs—are immobile, your circulation slows and you burn fewer calories.
That would be cause enough to gain weight.
But as it turns out, sitting so long and so much does even more to those trying to lose weight and get in shape. Key fat-burning enzymes responsible for breaking down triglycerides (a type of fat) simply start switching off. Sit for a full day and those fat burners plummet by 50 percent, says James Levine,M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot.
It gets even worse. The more you sit, the less blood sugar your body uses, meaning those sugars store as fat. Medical research research shows that for every two hours spent sitting per day, your chance of getting diabetes goes up by 7 percent. Your risk for heart disease goes up, too, because enzymes that keep blood fats in check are inactive. You're also more prone to depression because with less blood flow, mood enhancing hormones are not getting to your brain.
“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking,” says Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic. Sitting for four or more hours a day has about the same adverse effect on your health as smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes every day.
Ever since we learned about sitting disease, we have added exercise and moving-around breaks to our long driving days. And Jennifer insists on visiting fitness centers when we're on the road as often as possible, as well as doing more hiking and biking.
But the healthy eating thing is now our biggest challenge.
Obesity and the diseases it causes is clearly biggest killer in North America. Just yesterday a new study came out that shows how dangerous poor eating habits is, resulting in BMI (Body Mass Increase) increases. BMI is a measure which takes into account a person's weight and height to gauge total body fat in adults. A BMI of 30 and higher is considered obese
Presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, the study found that people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 to 35 were at 70% higher risk of developing heart failure than their healthy weight peers.
Even a BMI of 25 to 30 increased the risk by 20%, while a BMI of 35 to 40 more than doubled the risk and a BMI of 40 to 45 almost quadrupled the risk compared to people of a normal weight.
The study also found that compared with normal weight individuals, a BMI of 25 to 30 increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea by more than double, while a person with a BMI of 30 to 35 was more than five times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and almost six times as likely to develop sleep apnea.
When I started began my healthy living program last September, I had a BMI of 32. Today it is 26. That's still considered overweight.
So I'm aiming to get down as close as I can to a BMI in the low 20's. The best way to do that is to eat better.
Many RVers have recommended the Instant Pot and we bought the three quart model specifically for our RV travel. But we have not used it much. We love the RV Lifestyle. But mealtime is always a challenge for us, mostly because our RV travel involves a lot of work and sometimes there just is not time to stop and prepare a meal.
We have tried the Instant Pot but haven't found the right recipes that are healthy, tasty and nutritious. Yet.
As we begin our summer travel schedule, we will be packing the Instant Pot. I know many of you are avid fans. So… please use comments to pass along your favorite recipes. Healthy recipes, low in carbs, with lots of veggies, lean meat. Tasty and… easy to prepare. That's the key.
There's too much of North America calling for us to explore to let bad health caused by bad eating slow us down or sideline us.
We've ordered a couple of Instant Pot cookbooks. But I bet many of you already have some favorite recipes that we'd enjoy. Please send them along. We'll be doing a video on healthy eating and living on the road and of the various recipes you send in. We'll prepare several and then pick our favorite and feature it in the video with full credit to whoever send it in. We'll also send along a clothing item of the winner's choice from our online RV Lifestyle store.
I know people will see the link notice on Facebook and social media about this post but only recipes posted in comments here will count.
We need your help in getting to know our Instant Pot