Oh, the tales we’ve heard! Recently one of our online My Pritikin members wrote of his fast food travails. He’d changed jobs, which added 1-1/2 hours to his car commute. He was feeling like a “bumble bee trapped in a jar.” Knowing he wouldn’t be eating dinner at home till 8 p.m., he started ordering dinner at drive-thrus.
Initially he searched for healthy options, “but before long the southern fried tidbits started calling to me, and things went downhill fast. Last night when I looked at the seat beside me and saw three KFC toasted chicken snack wraps (they are small), a Taco Bell Stuffed Burrito (who knew you could get Taco Bell and KFC at the same window?) and a Mountain Dew, I knew I was in serious trouble.”
The following morning he went online to the nutrition facts info at KFC’s and Taco Bell’s websites “and realized that during my drive home I had eaten 2,060 calories, 84 grams of fat, and 4,370 grams of sodium! I know. That’s insane, and maybe being aware of it will help me avoid the trap I’ve fallen into, but I obviously need to deal with this commute better. Any suggestions?”
In poured great tips from other My Pritikin members and Dr. Coral Arvon, Director of the Behavioral Medicine & Wellness Program at Pritikin. Here’s a synopsis – 6 tips for avoiding fast food restaurants:
Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”
Are you “rewarding” yourself for whatever reason (you’re trapped in the car, or you’ve had a long hard day at work, or your romantic life is on the fritz)? If so, find another way to reward yourself once you get home. Make it a special gift you receive only if you make it home without stopping.
Are you pulling into the drive-thru out of boredom?
If so, try an attitude change. Don’t look at your commute as wasted time. Make it a time that you’re doing something you really enjoy. There are many wonderful audiobooks and podcasts you can download from iTunes. You can even download full courses from iTunes University, suggested one of our very creative and resourceful My Pritikin members. Many public libraries across the country also have websites that allow you to download books. Make your reward this literary escape, not fatty, cheesy fast food.
Are you really hungry?
If so, try eating something healthy and filling before you leave work. And “always carry healthy snacks in the car,” advised Dr. Arvon. A My Pritikin member wrote, “I often keep a bunch of grapes in a cup that I can nibble on while driving. Remember, you just need something to hold you over until you get home.”
Do you need to plan better?
A long commute in rush hour is a potentially stressful situation. It’s during stressful times like these that we often eat the wrong foods and eat impulsively, pointed out Dr. Arvon. So come up with a plan to tackle – or at least temper – the stress. Maybe leave a bit earlier or later to alleviate the traffic madness.
Don’t wait until you get home to cook.
Have meals prepared ahead of time that you can just pop in the microwave. Leftovers can be life-savers on busy, gotta-eat-but-no-time-to-cook evenings. So when you do have time to cook, make extra servings and freeze them.
Pat yourself on the back
The good news is: The missteps were then, “and this is now. It’s a new day!” encouraged Dr. Arvon. Congratulate yourself for recognizing the problem and starting anew. Often, it’s the do-overs in our lives that ultimately lead us to “I did it!”