Out of the Bubble

Yesterday afternoon, we pulled into a rest stop in central Massachusetts and were greeted by a Ronald McDonald flanked by American flags.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to look down my nose at this unintentional commentary on the state of America. The fact is that our car contained a rather impressive collection of  highly processed “foods” – all of which we’d been happily ingesting for the past few hours. The rest of the way home I started to seriously wonder why we do this.

My family has developed an unwritten rule as of late that when we go for long trips in the car, the junk food flood gates are happily opened. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this family tradition has kicked into high gear since our diet has improved at home. Mom and Dad love the chance to revisit the unbridled days of high sugar, high fat, and high salt. And of course the kids are more than happy to join us.

I guess this would be fine if I didn’t already have school lunch, birthdays, kids’ menus at restaurants, holidays, and all the other “treats” that my family is bombarded with to take into account. More importantly, I worry about the binge mentality that we are modeling for our children. And while it tastes good at first, this stuff is really gross and deeply unsatisfying. 

Obviously, we’ll need to cut back on the next trip. I could even devote hours to making fantastic yet healthy treats that rival store-bought snacks. But I doubt I will. This “food” is a part of the world we live in and in small amounts is no big deal.

The real problem is being forced to acknowledge how fragile the healthy food environment I’m trying to build at home is. Are we ever going to be able to coexist peacefully with junk food when we move outside of our little bubble? Are we ever going to be disciplined enough to sample unhealthy foods  moderately?

Better yet, could there ever be a day when we pull into a rest stop and be greeted by a parade of dancing fruits and vegetables? That’s something I’d be more than happy to mount our flag next to.