- The Washington Times - Monday, May 17, 2004

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Angela Muggenburg eats a sausage McGriddle on her way to work, and then drives through McDonald’s again for a grilled chicken sandwich — sans mayo and french fries — for lunch while running errands.

The busy mom is one among many Americans whose chaotic schedules have them picking up more than an occasional meal to eat by the glow of their dashboard lights.

The National Restaurant Association says a survey of more than 1,000 consumers showed 67 percent view convenience as critical.

Mrs. Muggenburg, 34, realized just how often her Lexus RX300 was hitting the golden arches when a worker at the drive-through predicted her order before she could say a word.

“I just feel like I don’t have a lot of time, so I look for things that are fast and easy,” Mrs. Muggenburg said.

McDonald’s might want to consider making her its poster child. She is the counterpoint to Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker who gained 25 pounds eating at McDonald’s for a month.

Mrs. Muggenburg has lost 25 pounds in the past five months by eating fast food. Her trick is avoiding the french fries and high-calorie condiments, paying attention to portions and being on the go with her children.

Terry Egan, nutrition specialist with University Outreach and Extension in Springfield, said those who eat on the go should remember the “five-a-day” rule for fruits and vegetables. She suggests packing cherry tomatoes, baby carrots or cut vegetables in small plastic bags. Apples, oranges, bananas and grapes also are easy choices for busy lifestyles.

“The key to healthy dashboard dining is to focus on foods that provide a big nutritional punch with few calories from sugar and fat,” she said.

She also advises against super-sizing meals and sodas.

“Americans are so obsessed with value,” she said. “The trouble is that when we spend that extra quarter to super-size our meals, we also super-size ourselves.”

Many dashboard diners think they are maximizing their time by eating while driving. However, a study released last June by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed eating and drinking is the No. 1 distraction for motorists.

The average person spends about one hour and 15 minutes in a vehicle each day, and 4.6 percent of that time is used to eat or drink, the study showed.

“The trouble is that if you’re eating a hamburger, you may glance down to unwrap it or even block part of your field of vision as you eat it,” said Fairley Washington, foundation spokeswoman. “Drinks can spill.”

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