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Does It Count If I Eat It In the Car?

March 28th, 2011

The following blog was written by Sarah H., a recent client of Fork in the Road. Sarah is a periodic guest blogger here on the site, and she has promised to document her progress—and setbacks—for the benefit of our followers. Sarah’s vital stats: 29 years-old, married to Stephen, who is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Two daughters, Avery (2 years) and Ainsley (20 weeks!). Previous eating style: 80-90% organic, high dairy and healthier than average (slightly…on some days). Health/lifestyle goals: Provide a well-balanced diet for a picky toddler, add variety to the family table, develop food preparation skills and improve the quality of meals consumed.

Photo courtesy of Flickr: jdwheaton

If you have been following my guest posts on Sheree’s blog you know that my husband, Stephen, has been stationed in North Carolina while my daughters and I stayed behind in Iowa. Well, our family decided it would be best that the girls and I join Stephen in N.C. Let me tell you, just packing up and getting here was difficult….add to that eating on the road! UGH!

I’ve never been one to like fast food, and I read about obesity—-especially childhood obesity— all the time.  So I hated the idea of swinging through high-fat, high-sodium, low-nutrient food joints to begin with. However, what other choice do you have when you have a picky toddler and a screaming baby in the car? I mean, do you dare wake a sleeping infant  just so you can eat at a less-unhealthy food place? Um no, you definitely don’t! This drastically reduces the options for dining while trekking 1200 miles across the country.

Here are a few of the issues we faced as a family during our trip and beyond:

  • Stephen is on board with healthy eating but he won’t go hungry just to avoid unhealthy foods.
  • Avery doesn’t eat meat 95% of the time it is placed in front of her. She also won’t eat foods that are hard to distinguish (i.e. no sandwiches, casseroles, soups, etc.)
  • My stomach doesn’t tolerate 80% of restaurant fare, but most importantly, I have invested so much in learning from Sheree—I did not want to wreck it while traveling.

The week we planned to leave I asked our Des Moines co-op, Prudent Produce, to deliver things that were non-perishable and easy to eat on the road. This proved to be an excellent idea. I washed all the fruits we would be taking (bananas, oranges, apples, pears and grapefruits) and these were great snacks for the first three days of traveling. We also had dried fruits, nuts and seeds in the car.

That sounds all well and good, but Avery went off the wagon pretty quickly and Stephen wasn’t “full” on such fare…and honestly, neither was I! I’m sure part of it was boredom and the stress brought on by the trip and the move. We frequented Starbucks as often as we could. While stimulants are on my list of things to give up permanently, I indulged frequently on the trip. On the plus side: Starbucks serves a whole grain, egg-white and turkey bacon sandwich…something that at least seems healthier than other drive up choices!

The trip started out with great intentions: I remembered Sheree had written an article a while back about eating in social settings, so I prepared myself in advance by reading it. She suggests several excellent food choices—like Mexican or Greek—because the chances are great that fresh foods are used. But trying an unknown Mexican or Greek joint on the road would cost us travel time as well as create risk of me feeling sick. So we stuck with what we knew and grabbed Subway or breakfast sandwiches from Starbucks for most meals. The more fatigued I became (it took four full days and nights for the trip) the more I craved carbs and sugar. And by the end of the third day I happily ate biscuits and gravy with sausage and eggs at Cracker Barrel. I felt better…for like an hour. And then I started crashing—like coming off a sugar high. Totally not a wise idea because it started an awful cycle. The only way I could feel good was to eat sugar…carbs…fat… and more sugar! By the time we arrived I was craving so many “bad” foods it was ridiculous. I did have some of these same cravings when I first started working with Sheree, but I could control it with a sweet treat like a walnut stuffed date. This time however, I was too far gone for these healthy tricks to work.

So what did I do? 1) I documented in my journal exactly how I felt every day and dog-eared the pages so I am reminded why I never want to carb load again. 2) I immediately threw out all leftover snack food and went to the local grocery. 3) I filled up my cart with as much fresh fruit, produce and other organic products as I could. 4) I began my first Monday morning in N.C. juicing and making salads. I whipped up some of Sheree’s (amazing) dips for veggies and I grilled organic fish with a massive pile of veggies.

It took about two weeks to stop craving junk because we were all still so tired and off kilter. From all this I have learned that emotional situations seem like good excuses to indulge in bad food but in reality, they aren’t worth the price.  Just about the same time that I wrote in my journal that I never wanted to be a slave to subpar foods again—I received notice of the next 6-week detox starting up with Sheree in conjunction with R Studio in Des Moines. While I can’t partake in the detox due to breastfeeding, Sheree did give me some pointers and as soon as I am able, I will be participating in the detox fully. In the meantime, I’m going to stick with the basics 1) Juice every morning 2) Give up coffee (again) 3) Continue avoiding the microwave and 4) Meet with Sheree virtually to continue our sessions. Stay tuned!