The adventures of sticking to a restrictive diet while on the road

I love journeys!  Anywhere that involves a passport or car full of camping gear gets me really excited.  I think it’s the prospect of adventuring into the unknown and knowing I’ll come out on the other side with stories, life experience, and happy memories that easily get me ready to embark on a quest.  When I began my food journey, I had no idea it was going to be an adventure so similar to the traveling kind.  It started as going into the unknown and I came out with so many tales to tell.


This weekend’s tale was a very literal food journey as we traveled 516+ miles on our production, which definitely was a quest while being on a restrictive diet that manages my Crohn’s Disease.  It took some planning (see our last blog post about road food preparation) and creativity, but I managed to come home with a happy belly!  Here are some food highlights from the road:

One of the joys of traveling during the summer is stopping for farmers markets!  It’s the perfect time to stock up on fruits and veggies on the road, and also scope out what’s going on in that community’s food culture.  We hit a farmers market at dinner time in Manzanita, Oregon, and they were definitely food-focused with organic and food sensitivity conscious vendors.  There were gluten-free desserts (but I can’t have sugar), crepes made with organic fillings (but I can’t have grains), and BBQ with pastured meats (but I can’t have nightshades).  I did find one vendor who was selling shrimp boats, which was shrimp (hold the sauce for me) in an avocado half, and that was absolutely perfect!


Next stop: Bend, Oregon to check in with one of our participants we’ve been following since she started her food journey.  Since we last checked in with her, she’s started to find community with other people who are also healing with food.  When we stopped in, our participant and one of her friends from the healing community were making gut-healing gummy snacks together.  Her friend is Beth of the blog Real Food Inspired Me, which is definitely inspiring to read about her journey!  We totally appreciated being sent on the road with some snacks that held us over while dinner cooked on the campfire!


Another one of our strategies while traveling besides packing snacks, was to camp and cookout over the campfire.  When I was a girl scout, we used to make something called Hobo Stew, which was a meatball, potato, and veggies wrapped up in a foil packet and cooked over the coals.  We did a version of that with salmon, yams, mushrooms, and zucchini.  It was decided that this was one of the best campfire dinners ever!


This journey wasn’t without a roadblock along the way.  While dining with some new friends, my dinner came with some peppers cooked into my plate, even though I thought I did a good job communicating to the server what I didn’t want.  Other people are better about sending food back until it’s right, which is how it should be, but we were in a time crunch and I didn’t have the energy to pick that battle.  Luckily, I came prepared with activated charcoal so that I wouldn’t have to deal with itchy rashes for the next 2 weeks.


So, enjoy the journey be it the traveling or eating kind.  Don’t let your disease hold you back from the adventure!  Weather a logger blocks the road and makes you 30 minutes late to your appointment after camping, or you eat something you shouldn’t, remember that it’s part of the journey!  Use your creativity, patience, and planning to get to where you need to go.  And, most importantly, have fun along the way!



Sticking to a healthy eating plan while on the road

Through the weekend, we are hitting the road for some production fun!  Thursday morning, my husband/sound guy/producer and I are traveling from Portland to the Oregon coast to do two screenings of our last documentary, Time As Money.  Then, we’ll be heading through the mountains to Bend in Central Oregon to check in with one of our participants of Food As Medicine to see how she’s doing with her diet changes.

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516 miles of road and 3 nights away from a homebase kitchen can give anyone with a restrictive diet due to health reasons a large dose of anxiety!  Luckily, I grew up in a household where we always packed our lunches for school or meals for vacation, which got me in the motion of always planning ahead.  Unfortunately, when I was younger, it usually involved bologna sandwiches, Cheetos, cookies, and everything else that helped bring me to a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease in 2000.  Even though my lunchbox has changed dramatically, I still plan ahead for what to eat when I’m away from home.

So, my plan of attack to stick to my diet (of which excludes grains, corn, potatoes, soy, sugar, and most dairy) while spanning the Oregon state this weekend is to start with a car full of premade and prepackaged snacks.  The food load may rival our production equipment for space in the car, but the comfort of knowing we aren’t at the mercy of a truck stop convenience store when hunger sets in is worth forfeiting some leg room.


If you’re interested in what I made for road trip snack ideas of your own, you can check out these recipes for gluten-free sweet carrot muffins, garlic and rosemary cocktail nuts, and plantain crackers.

I’ll share what the food culture is like on the open Oregon road when we get back!


Low income patients access nutritious food by way of trolley

There are a lot of topics that surround the matter of treating chronic disease with nutrition that go way beyond the simplicity of what we put into our bellies.  This week we are interested in food access.  What do you do when you can only afford the very foods that are keeping you from good health?

Tuesday, we visited the Good Samaritan Clinic in Portland, Oregon to find out how they are making access to fresh and organic produce and food staples a reality for many of their low income patients.  Every Tuesday, My Street Grocery of Whole Foods Market rolls in the clinic’s parking lot where patients can spend vouchers that have been prescribed to them through the Food Rx Program.


The idea came about when registered nurse, Debbie Mckissack was counseling a diabetic patient.  The patient responded to Debbie’s nutritional counseling by saying, “that’s a rich man’s diet.  I can’t eat those things and pay for them.”  Around that same time, Debbie had been introduced to Amelia Pape with My Street Grocery.  The concept of connecting her patients to My Street Grocery led Debbie to apply for a grant, which has led to the weekly market day.


Amelia told us how the collaboration has not only brought access to a population that needs it, but the relationships between patient and provider alongside the staff at My Street Grocery has created a community spirit around food, which has made the program truly successful.  Social worker, Scott Dillinger said that along with improvement with several health markers, depression decreased among participants in the program.  “A lot of people who use our market are socially isolated, and just getting out and coming here every week has built this sense of community and has helped perk people’s spirits up.”

The Food Rx Program has been successfully funded by grants for 3 years now.



Rewriting your genetic story

When we first saw Dr. Kent Thornburg of the Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness at OHSU present on epigenetics, our grasp of healing through nutrition was expanded to a whole new level.  It is understood that chronic disease can run within a family and commonly believed that your genes can be a determining factor of whether you will face a struggle with chronic disease in your lifetime.

However, Dr. Thornburg argues that we are not sentenced to the disease that comes with our genes, and we can actually end chronic disease for future generations.  The example Dr. Thornburg gave was the high rate of heart disease related deaths in the state of Louisiana.  They must have bad genes, right?  Well, not quite.  Dr. Thornburg explained that because of the history with the Louisiana Purchase, most Louisianans have a French heritage.  However, the French living on the European continent have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.


In this country today, the majority of first generation Americans come from Latino backgrounds.  When Dr. Thornburg talked with us in an interview for Food As Medicine, he noted that when Latinos come to this country, it has been found that they are generally in good health, but what has been found is that health declines over the next two generations.  By the third generation, type 2 diabetes and heart disease rates are higher than the national average.


We are excited to be following an initiative with Adelante Mujeres and Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Forest Grove, Oregon called the Produce Rx Program aimed to educate and empower Latina women who are at risk for diabetes through nutrition.  What guarantees the success of the participants in this program is the community that is formed within the Produce Rx Program.  A relationship is fostered with the participants where the women attend an orientation, cooking classes, and a market tour together.  What makes this program even more unique is the partnership with the Forest Grove Farmers Market.  When we met up with the group last week, they were introduced to each of the farmers at the market, which is great because any intimidation to try new produce can be eased with by talking with a farmer who you are already on a first name basis with.  Every week, the participants receive vouchers to spend at the market and track their progress with a food log.  We are looking forward to following this group’s progress!