Back From the Border — and Back to Basics

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I just got back from Canada, where I played a couple shows with a local band that goes up there every now and then. It was a fun trip, a good couple of shows, and now I’m back home, enjoying my own bed and the comforts of home. I don’t go on a lot of these trips anymore — there was a time when I spent half my life on the road, going from town to town in a van, playing every venue you can imagine from the lowest dirt-hole dive bars to packed festivals.

These days traveling for music is kept to a minimum. I spend a lot more of my time teaching and playing locally, and I like it this way. I get to spend more time with my wife, my cats, and lead a much more normal kind of life. But once in a while, maybe once a month or every month and a half, I’ll hop onto a 3–5 day run like this and hit the road again. It’s fun, and since I’m not LIVING my life out of a suitcase these trips are refreshing rather than grueling.

And diabetes management is easier, too. That’s not to say managing diabetes on the road isn’t possible. It certainly is — I did it pretty consistently for three years. But the road is full of hazards. The top of the list is just how EASY it is to eat nothing but nutritionally void, processed, nothing-in-this-will-turn-into-anything-worthwhile-to-your-body food! I used to bring a cooler with me on these trips, with some lunch meat, my own loaf of bread, some apples, and other “lunch/dinner materials.” I’d bring some peanut butter, some granola bars, and a few other snacks, as well. When everyone piled out of the van for food at whatever fast-food place we had stopped, I’d make my sandwich. It was cheaper (a big part of why I did that), and WAY better for me (the other part of why I did that).

This past weekend I didn’t do that. The cooler thing takes some advance planning, and keeping the ice fresh is a pain. I figured, “hey, it’s a three-day trip and I’m not doing this very often. I’ll just east fast food along the road.” The trip wasn’t long enough for that food to hurt my blood sugars (those stayed pretty even), but I got home feeling tired and run down — much more than would make sense for a short trip like that. And it reminded me again WHY I used to go through the trouble of keeping that cooler in the van on all of those trips.

I think a lot of us struggle to eat well when our schedules get hectic. It’s unfortunate but true that the more hectic our schedules become, the LESS likely we are to eat food that offers true nourishment. And that in turn fuels a sense of frenzy that compounds that hectic schedule. It’s quite a little spiral.

Diabetes can add it’s own frenzy into the mix. With all of the stress, crazy schedules, and unpredictable ups and downs in our lives, we need to remember the basics. Good food means food that provides some nutrition. And that doesn’t mean eating nothing but kale, brown rice, and broccoli. But it DOES mean simplifying, avoiding the amazingly EASY call of fast food, and putting up with the extra work that goes into feeding ourselves food that really nourishes us.

It was a good reminder this past weekend. It was good to be reminded what a strong impact these simple choices can have; and it was good to be reminded how EASY it really is to move in the right direction. Make a sandwich on whole wheat bread instead of buying a burger or some fried chicken; grab a granola bar instead of downing handfuls of chips. Get back to the basics.

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