Motorway services stations need to get healthy

Published: Saturday 27th February 2016 by The News Editor

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Motorway services have a bad reputation for the poor quality and selection of food they offer to travellers. There have been improvements at many, but there are also a lot where the choice is largely soggy sandwiches or fried meals. Eating healthily is essential for safe driving, so we need to see more wholesome food on offer.

Walk down any high street nowadays and, alongside the burger and pizza joints, there are usually fresh sandwich shops, delis and cafes offering nutritious, balanced meals. This is what’s needed in every service station across the UK’s motorway network.

Some drivers and their passengers will always head straight for the burger and chips, and there’s nothing wrong with this once in a while. However, eating a heavy meal packed with carbohydrates is not a good idea when driving.

The reason eating burgers, chips and large meals when driving is not a good move is because your body has to divert blood and energy to digest the food in your stomach. This is energy that could be better used to maintain attention and alertness when at the wheel of your car. It’s exactly the same sensation you get after eating a large Sunday lunch, when you feel sleepy and need a nap.

Stopping for a break at a service station should help freshen you up and prepare you for the remainder of the journey, not make you less able to drive safely.

Part of the rest and recovery process is feeding your body and mind the right ingredients to ensure you are at your best when on the road. This is where service stations can let down their customers, by not offering much in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables, or making it difficult to find this kind of healthy food rather than the junk food options.

Some service stations get it absolutely right by offering farm shop food, locally sourced meals and a wide selection, so nobody has to feel they are being left out. As the Government wants to improve the health of the nation, and we should all take our own fitness seriously, motorway service stations often stand out as a glaring contradiction to this ethos, despite most of the people there being in control of a vehicle at high speed as they arrive and leave.

So, the first rule of eating at a service station should be to avoid the fast food and fry-ups. It doesn’t mean you have to stick to a couple of salad leaves, but try to eat smaller amounts and top up regularly. Less and often is the mantra for eating and driving safely.

However, don’t be tempted to eat at the wheel while driving at 70mph. This has been proven to be just as dangerous as using a mobile phone while driving and greatly increases your risk of being involved in a collision. There are plenty of service stations along most motorways, so use them to pull in and have regular breaks.

The recommended maximum time between breaks is two hours, which gives your brain and body a chance to rest and recover. If you are eating and drinking healthily to be a safe driver, you’ll need this two-hourly break for a toilet stop. Just don’t be tempted to gab a pie on the way back to the car.

Copyright Press Association 2016

Published: Saturday 27th February 2016 by The News Editor

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