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from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
and works every day to keep it off.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003  

Eating in the Car

Short answer. Don't do it. But that's more easily said than done.

Like many folks, I have a long commute. I use that time to catch up on the news, have imaginary battles with real and imaginary foes, dream about my appearance on The Daily Show (she's so witty!), make mental notes of all the grooming I haven't accomplished, set goals, note the changes of the season.

And eat. Mindlessly.

There are so many reasons to make your car a no-food zone. The upholstery: French fries sneaking between the seats are one thing, but a hunk of onion falling out of your burger and landing somewhere unreachable? That does terrible things to resale value.

There's the safety aspect. More accidents are caused by people being distracted by food and drink when they're driving than you might guess. It may be a worse distraction than even cell phones, even mascara application.

And then there's the eating way more poor quality calories than you need because you're bored out of your tree and there's rarely decent food available from the seat of your car. For many of us, getting in the car triggers thoughts of food. Snack food, fast food. Many of us store food in our cars, fearing hitting the road without at least a bag of nachos at our sides. The gas station sodas, chips, beef jerkey, donuts, the fast food restaurants, all are stocked for and built by for those of us who comfort and distract ourselves with horrible quaff & gorge while on the road.

And breaking the habit is hard, hard work. We've been building our habit ever since our parents used food to shut us up on long (or short) car trips. We moved our food to the front seat as soon as we learned to drive. Any teen will check the availablility of cup holders flexible enough to support a big gulp when considering a new car.

So, how to cut it out?

I don't know, because I haven't broken this habit myself yet. But here's what I'm going to try. If you have better ideas, more experience, please holler.

First, clean the car. Clean it out. Take it to a detailer if you want to make the pain of a small investment a better motivator. Or do it yourself. Clean out every hint and vestige and suggestion that there has ever been food in your car at any time.

Make rules. For yourself and your family. No food at all is one route. No food in the front seat. No food while driving could be a rule.

I like no open food containers in the car as a rule, because it cuts down on snacking generally, for the whole family. Schedule your drive time to allow you to stop the car and get out into a decent restaurant or at one of the many picnic tables your country and region have supplied for the purposes of eating along the road. Pack a picnic or stop at a grocery store for these times, but leave the food in the back of the car until it's time to stop. (Be careful about your picnic food choices. No mayo on the road, folks.) Picnic tables are usually located at pretty spots where you can stretch your legs, breathe clean air, find a water fountain, refresh the driver, exhaust the kids.

Drink? Make rules about drinks. Is coffee okay? Or just water? Water alone is a pretty good rule for the upholstery AND your good health.

Relieve boring commutes through the power of audio programming. Books on tape. Favorite music. Eat or drink your breakfast before you leave. We're talking about a five-to-fifteen minute difference, folks. No snacking on the way home. If you're hungry, explore your hunger. Get to know it. Make friends with it. You'll be home soon enough.

While you're driving, think about it. Note how many times your mind jumps automatically to food when you're in the car. Think about all the reasons why. Think about how dangerous eating while driving can be. You could choke. You could look down at the wrong moment to clear crumbs from your lap. Your greasy fingers could slip on the wheel. There are so many reasons not to do it. Let yourself imagine the worst so you are indeed associating eating in the car with bad images. Do that every time your mind runs to food while driving. You don't have to be morbid about it, or give yourself nightmares, but just keep in mind that it's a dangerous behavior for you and others around you, and it's bad for your health. For a starter, follow the first link below. At least.

Chew gum.

Listen to the news.

So. I'm going to clear all the nuts out of my car today (not the passengers, the almonds and walnuts). Detail the car next week (sigh). I'm allowing coffee and tea, not too hot, in a close-lidded container (no thermos!), and water, but no open soda in the drivers' seat. No solid food anywhere in the car.

This isn't going to be easy,


The dangers of eating and driving
Books on tape

Car detailing

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posted by Julie |
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