One of my clients is recovering from a couple years on what she refers to as "the gas station diet." Commuting to several locations around the state, she'd often find herself in the middle of nowhere (or in Scarborough) needing to eat Right Now, because she was due at the next thing in 15 minutes. Hmmm . . . snack section of the Valero? Or Dunkin Donuts? She got sick, and had to quit that job; eating normally now, she's feeling much better.
This gal is not alone. Moms who do three kids' worth of activities, working folks stuck at a desk all day, athletes, and creative people who simply forget to eat until they are ravenous and nasty will all eventually hear the siren call of prepackaged "food products." (Even moi! Recently I was scheduled to give a talk in Old Orchard Beach; though I sought out a restaurant for a dinner of grilled fish and salad, honey, that town was closed up tight for the winter
and the only thing open was a convenience store offering cheese food and Thunderbird. It was nuts and a bottle of water for dinner thank heaven I had an apple in the car.)
It IS possible to slow down your food style on busy days at least until you modify your merry-go-round. But fond as I am of you, I feel compelled to articulate an awful truth: peanut-butter crackers, frozen entrees and dinner in a bag will bite your butt eventually. Clients sometimes get annoyed because I want them to cut things up and cook them and they're just too busy for that don't I understand? I know you feel overwhelmed and stuck but you know
what nourishment requires inconvenient activities like food preparation, chewing, swallowing, and digestion no way around it. I do sincerely regret having to tell you this.
That said, here are some ideas for surviving in the wild:
Get a little cooler and a couple of those freezer brick things. At night, consider the coming day and fill your bag: whole grain turkey rollup, yogurt and fruit, almond butter and celery sticks, hummus and baby carrots, can of vegetable juice. Put it in the fridge and have it ready to go. This can become a habit.
Cut-up veggies can be as easy a snack as a bag of Doritos if you cut 'em up when you buy 'em. With yummy dip on the side, you're ready to roll.
Think squirrel: stash nuts everywhere. Or perhaps a classic raisin-peanut blend. Explore the potential of snack-sized plastic bags not that I love plastic (au contraire). Please abstain from any "snack mix" involving chocolate chips or M+Ms.
String cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and home-made protein smoothies are portable, require minimal preparation, and can be consumed while driving.
Think "grocery store" not "drive-thru" if you're on the road and hungry. Keep napkins and cutlery in your glove box. Yes, you will need to get out of the car for a few minutes.
If your absolutely only option is a convenience store, go for water, any fruit (apples are heavily sprayed, so try the banana or orange) and maybe a bag of nuts. (If they smell like oil paint insist on a new bag.)
Seek out a brand of sports nutrition bar you like (maybe the Clif Builder bar: no trans-fats or corn syrup, and good protein content.) But please consider these non-foods for emergencies only they're mostly sugar. You're not a Jetson!
Lastly, consider "anticipatory snacking." Maybe have a little something before you're really hungry so you won't be starving and insane later when you're on the other side of town. I think this is how our nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors did it they ate when they could. There's a lesson here.
Then please, come home and have a real meal.