I drive about 22 miles one way to work, four days a week. I drive from the northeast suburbs of Indianapolis to the south side of the city. Most of my distanced traveled is on an expressway. The drive takes me about 45 minutes give or take.
On my drive home, I decided to start counting fast food restaurants that I pass on my drive. Any guesses on how many I pass? Seventy. That's right, 70! This works out to an average of more than 3 fast food/quick service restaurants per mile. Most of that mileage is expressway, so that actual per mile density is MUCH higher.
(Want to see the on Google maps? Follow this link - look at all of the clusters of red dots.)
Why is the density of fast-food restaurants important?
I drive by these places at least 10 times a week, just commuting to work and back. It's a constant caloric temptation.
Feeling the slightest amount of hunger? Just a thing of thirst? Swing through the drive through of that place, or that place or those 5 places over there and your need is fulfilled. I just swipe my debit card and quickly continue along my commute. A couple of dollars less in the bank and a couple of hundred calories more in my belly. This constant temptation makes it difficult for adults to just WAIT and get a drink or snack when you get home. These convenient quick stops cost us calories, fat grams (likely saturated fats), sodium grams, money, and patience.
Furthermore, I end up promoting this mega-industry of factory foods and low wages with poor employee benefits. I DON'T LIKE IT. But geesh, I'm only human, I'm tired, I 'need' the caffeine... Might as well get a snack too... It's s slippery slope I've slid down too many times in the past two years of driving this route. (You may be noting that I feel some guilt about my over use of the convenience of fast-food.)
I've noticed that my little boys are picking up on my, less than appealing, fast-food habit. Every time my five-year old sees a McDonald's, he thinks we should stop. In fact, I believe he may sees it, and THEN realizes, "Hey, I'm hungry and would really like a Happy Meal to tide me over."
What are the chances my adult brain is doing the same thing to me? The power of suggestion is pretty powerful. One moment, I'm thinking that I'm tired.... I should get some coffee, and hey, I will just happen to drive by four dedicated coffee shops in the next 40 minutes, all with drive-thrus. I should probably swing by - real quick - just grab a quick $2 cup with a extra 150 calories.
What can we do to handle this situation better? For the sake of our waist and our bank account? Have you ever stopped to consider the number of fast food restaurants you drive by in a day?
Check in with me for Day 10 of Guilt Free Nutrition for more discussion.