It is easy to blame our bad food choices on someone else or a business such as truck stops. It can be very confusing to see billboards advertising that “We deserve a treat,” so we stop in and buy some ice cream or something sweet. One of the worst ones for me is to see a trailer go by with a Baby Ruth depicted on the side, and just like that I am craving a Baby Ruth bar.
We go into the Flying J Travel Centers and many have added a small Cinnabon area to the front of the store, baking and displaying beautiful cinnamon rolls. There is almost always a line to buy as the rolls are brought out of the oven. Fast food restaurants are taking the place of the sit-down restaurants. Many of these have a few good choices, but you really have to look for them.
There are other choices though in the TA/Petro Travel Center Mini Marts. There is often a cooler with premade salads, boiled eggs, cheese sticks, yogurt, and fruit for those that are in a hurry. In the restaurants, there are the Fit Fare menu items, as well as the salad bar and buffet. Another choice we have since many of the meals are large is to cut the meal in half and have the leftovers for the next day.
Recently at a Petro Travel Center in El Paso, I walked by the buffet and noticed all of the choices from the breaded items to the baked fish, many vegetable choices, as well as several different cuts of meat. We are the ones that decide to add the macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, gravy, breaded and fried meats to our plates instead of the other choices that are just as tasty but a lot healthier.
Salads and salad bars are another area where we chose to make the salad high or low calorie. There are many choices of macaronis as well as pudding and the little calorie bombs "croutons." There is also a variety of good choices and it is our hand that puts the food on our plates.
When we order we can say no hash browns, no bread, and no sweet tea. We can also leave off the french fries and decide instead to have a dinner salad. Condiments are another source of sugar and calories as we decide to pour on the ketchup and mayo.
Through education, we can learn more about hidden calories or choices that we make that sound great and are really bad. There are all kinds of articles explaining how food manufactures create foods that send signals to our brains that we are not full. Once again though, we choose to buy what we know is bad for us.
Truck stops are not in the health or diet business; they are here to make a profit. Most businesses have to make money to survive, and if their clientele demands high calorie food, lots of travel snacks, and soda pop over the lower calorie foods, then that is what they are going to sell. In the past few years, our ability to make healthier choices have grown, and as more and more of the travel plazas patrons make healthy choices, there will be even more items to choose from.
Do we really want businesses to decide what is healthy for us and only sell those products? We will quickly go to a different store where we make the choice and give them our business.