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    Dodging the Drive Thru Dinner Syndrome

    By Amy Bergin     

    According to the American Public Health Association study in 2004, the frequency of eating fast food has been linked with higher fat intake in children and with increased weight in adults. I know from personal experience and by polling other Moms, that the convenience of the drive thru overrides good sense when it comes to healthy eating choices. Before having children, if someone had told me that after children reach toddler age, dining on fast food once a week is common and accepted, I would not have believed it. When I was growing up in the seventies, going to Burger King in the next town over and eating a Whopper, Jr. with my family was a big deal, a real indulgence and only happened once or twice a year! Wow, have times and trends changed but what hasn't is the lack of nutritional value in fast food and the long term impact not only physically, but I believe, psychologically as well. I know I am in the danger zone when my kids know what toys are being offered in the kid's meals and are more interested in the toy than the food.

    So, what is it that causes many people to spend more money, get less value, create more trash in the car, less time together and wind up with loads of cheap toys that are forgotten about ten minutes after playing with them? It all goes back to planning. I too have been caught with no plan for dinner, out in the car and it is just easier to go through the drive thru than it is to go home and figure out something to eat and prepare it.

    So, below are some ideas I know work to help you plan better and stick to your family budget and nutritional goals more consistently:

    - Create achievable nutritional goals for the whole family. For example, milk at every meal, 5 a day fruits and veggies, limited intake of sugar.

    - Look for coupons and sales in the grocery store for healthy snacks that can be easily stored in the car like fruit leather, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, raisins, fruit, and bottled water.

    - Drive on a full stomach. This way when the kids are pressuring you to hit the drive thru you are more likely to keep on driving.

    - If you have to eat in the car, pack something, It takes less time and a fraction of the cost to throw something together than to waste time and gas waiting in a drive thru line during rush hour.

    - Keep a stash of "treat" money for the week and when this is gone, the treats are too.

    - Always pay in cash. Today drive thru restaurants are taking credit cards partly to make it easier to pull in people who lack discipline in using them.

    Going to fast food restaurants can sadly become a part of our children's memory of family dining if we let it. I would much rather have their family dining memories be of home and eating what was carefully planned and lovingly prepared for them. This is my memory and I am striving to pass this along to my children as well.

    Written by Amy BerginRate this article:

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