"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Captain's Log: What's for lunch?

If I'm making lunch, it'll be something quick. Leftovers if we have any. Maybe peanut butter and saltines with string cheese and a beer. If there are any hard boiled eggs, those are always good. Mashed up with salt, pepper, hot sauce and olive oil and you have a fast, and really good, egg salad. Not too long ago, I would've just ripped open a power bar or a granola bar.

But then I read a book by David Gillespie called Sweet Poison. He's a lawyer in Australia who became interested in why so many of us were over weight, and why that trend is accelerating. Lawyers aren't trained in science or nutrition, but they know how to research a topic and build a case, and he proceeds to build a case against added sugar in our diets that is hard to refute. I was convinced, and I convinced Janie we should stop eating any foods with added sugar. No soft drinks, no power bars, no granola bars ... you get the idea. When you start reading labels, you end up eliminating most processed foods. We ignored the nutritional information on the label and went right to the list of ingredients. If sugar, sucrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, any other kind of syrup, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, agave, "natural sugars" or the like was there then it had sugar added. What all these sugars had in common was: they all contained fructose, a simple sugar found in fruit and (to some extent) vegetables. Our bodies can tolerate small amounts of fructose but it is essentially metabolized by the liver as a toxin. Glucose is the sugar we need, but it doesn't taste as sweet as fructose so most added sugar contains some fructose also. The exception is dextrose, or maltose, which is just another name for glucose. If dextrose is the only sugar in the list of ingredients, then that's good. Eat all you want. Maltose is the sugar used in brewing beer, so beer is good. But we already knew that. Of course fruit contains fructose also, but you can (and should) eat the whole fruit. Fruit juice, however, is not allowed because it concentrates the sugar (nobody will eat five apples in a single sitting but it's easy to toss down a small glass of apple juice containing the juice from those five apples).

So eliminating added sugar wasn't going to be easy, or convenient, but it was doable and necessary. There was also another gotcha: sugar is addictive. For some reason, your brain is wired for a positive pleasure response to sugar, another reason why the food industry loves adding it to whatever food they want you to buy and consume. Withdrawing from sugar is not unlike withdrawing from other addictive substances. We decided to just go cold turkey and get it over with. It took a couple of weeks, but I no longer miss my granola bars.

I love all the stuff I can still eat and drink. Although alcohol is another toxin metabolized by the liver, Mr. Gillespie maintains it is ultimately less harmful than fructose and does suppress your appetite as real food would (fructose doesn't affect your appetite because your body doesn't recognize it as food, so you still feel hungry). Excessive fructose in our diets has been shown to have a clear link to heart disease in many studies, unlike saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, which have never been shown to have any correlation to heart disease. Not one single study. But how is that possible? Everyone knows you should trim the fat from your steak, that you shouldn't even be eating steak, that skim milk is better for you than whole milk, that margarine is better for you than butter, that you should limit the number of high cholesterol eggs you eat. How could we have been so wrong for so long without any supporting evidence?

For that you would have to go back to the seven country study shortly after World War II that showed a strong correlation between the increase in the consumption of meat with a significant rise in diseases of the heart. The study was compiled by Ancel Keys of the University of Minnesota. After the war he had nutritional data from twenty two countries. Had he used all twenty two countries, he would have shown there was no correlation between eating meat and heart disease. So he selected seven countries, including the US, that showed both a rise in meat consumption and a rise in heart disease and concluded that meat and saturated fats were responsible. Had he included only the fifteen countries he eliminated, it would have shown a reverse correlation: the more meat consumed the lower the incidence of heart disease. But he was popular enough from his work during the war (he invented the K ration used by our troops) that he was able to persuade many people. It was enough for Procter and Gamble to promote their (new) Crisco shortening as a healthier alternative to saturated animal fats. Low fat became a new industry, and as fat came out, sugar went in because removing the fat meant removing the flavor and sugar helped replace that. It set up the perfect storm we have yet to recover from.

It's not my intent to convince you, just to say that I'm convinced and I would encourage you to do your own research. There is a free video on YouTube called: The Bitter Truth by Dr. Lustig that inspired much of this. Sweet Poison I've already mentioned, but there's another book by the same author I would also recommend: Big Fat Lies.  So have a beer with your bacon cheese burger and don't worry, your body will tell you when to stop.

Happy Trails.
- John

Captains's Mate (Janie):
When John first started talking about this I had all kinds of rebuttals but then I watched the video "Sugar: the Bitter Truth" and I had a change of heart. If there is one place you need to start it is here. Dr. Lutsig is the head of the Obesity Clinic for children at the University of California at San Diego. Don't take our word for it but instead listen to those who know much more. I got a little lost in the biochemistry and if you are not science literate you may too but please just hang in there because what he has to say is so worth listening to. You can make your decision from there. If it intrigues you then go on and read Sweet Poison  by David Gillespie and his newer book Big Fat Lies. The video is what spurred David Gillespie to dig into the research and it may be the same for you.

Just so you know, I definitely went through withdrawal at the beginning of this journey, much like the times I gave up caffeine (during pregnancy), lots of headaches for the first week, then it got better and passing up those sweets has become much easier. In a months time, John has lost 8lbs. and I have have lost 4 lbs. We expect this to be a slow process so it was encouraging to have these results but even if it had been less we would have been ok; this is a change in the way we live and so we expect a slow steady progress. I definitely know I get full faster than previously. I've linked all the info so you can easily find it if it trips your curiosity. As a side note Katie Couric is releasing a documentary on the subject of sugar and much of this same info is in that report. She is a little late to the game but it looks like more people are becoming aware of this issue.
Thanks for reading.

Happy Trails........................

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Busy Times in Iowa

Evelyn's first birthday!

So we made it back to Iowa on April 15th, the first day the local parks opened. It was cold and for the first 24 hours the water wasn’t turned on because that night temps were down in the 20s. We are now in May and though we have seen some days with warmer temps its still a bit chilly for May. I think we all feel it has been the never ending winter. Being back in the Midwest also means being in the zone for severe thunderstorms and tornados. It is the season. We have had one warning that sent us to the shower-house for awhile and we’ve stuck out two severe thunderstorms in the trailer. Typical spring in Iowa. Obviously we’ve survived them all.

Once we get here it seems we are on the run just catching up with friends and family, our granddaughter’s 1st birthday, lots of babysitting, and this year we added working to the mix. We are Ushers for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, a Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. We’ve worked about 5 nights now, three of them have been double headers as they have had so many rain outs early this season. We’ve been going to these games for as long as I can remember and we are enjoying our jobs. We really don’t have to work that hard, we get to watch baseball (at least some of each game) and we get paid for it. It’s a great combination.
Cedar Rapids Kernels Perfect Game Field (photo from their site)
I really haven’t spent much time on the computer. We went to dinner last week with Jeff and Dawn, fellow full timers here. They are camp hosting at the nearby state park. It was good to catch up and Jeff reminded me it was time to write something on the blog. I am so thankful for all that we have met (Jeff and Dawn included) as a result of our blog or from reading the blog of others. However it seems like this last year I have found myself blogging less and actually even spending less time on my computer. I think there are seasons of our lives that we do things and that changes from time to time. I think right now I am so busy living life I haven’t spent much time with my computer.  Seasons are always changing so you never know when I’ll take seriously to the computer once again.

We plan on just sticking around here for the summer. We are going to go to Wisconsin for a short trip to visit our friends Evelyn and Kevin and visit a few family members. We have a week the Kernels are out of town and it all worked out so we are looking forward to that. We also have an upcoming wedding that will be like a mini vacation. My nephew Austin will be getting married just west of Omaha on May 31st and we are leaving the rig here and just driving over and spending a night. It will be a fun wedding.
Our son Mitch with daughter Evie

Our biggest reason for staying in the Cedar Rapids area is to spend time with our granddaughter. This grandparent gig is a blast. We have been babysitting a couple times a week and loving it. She is a delight. She looks a lot like her daddy and that brings back so many wonderful memories. We got to see her take a few of her first steps last week too. She is stubborn about it though and would rather crawl but you can tell it won’t be long and she will be off and running. Her and I are buddies theses days and I am so delighted. We had her at the trailer last week and we picked some dandelions. She was fascinated with them. I am looking forward to all kinds of adventures with her during our time here.
"Here Nana, I want to share my dandelions"

I do want to blog about the Arkansas State Parks, didn’t get that done earlier but I will try to revisit that soon because I’d like to tell you about them. Hope all is well with all our RV friends and....

Happy Trails............................