Petrol stations laden with sugar fuelled snacks, bars and nibbles resemble drug dens for sugar addicts and ‘paradise’ for over-eaters.

Petrol stations laden with sugar fuelled snacks, bars and nibbles resemble drug dens for sugar addicts and ‘paradise’ for over-eaters.

We are being lured at petrol stations into a world of titbits, prepared meals, on-the-go lunches and snacks, ‘irresistible’ bite-sized ‘treats’ and even the quick-grab coffee shop complete with its own barista. As if driving along at 70mph (or more, in some cases) isn’t thrill enough for us that we need to pump it up even more with rushes of sugar and caffeine shots.

Queuing to pay for petrol recently, indignation grew as there was a feeling of being thoroughly bombarded by food.

‘Buy me, buy me!’ was everywhere one looked. Not only from the row upon row of brightly coloured shiny packaging disguising the true ugliness of the dull brown chocolate beneath, or the astute manipulation in the targetted shelf placement for the kids’ own garishly-wrapped sweet products, or the neatly stacked cohorts of tins containing variants of fizzy sugared liquid and the chillers bulging with regiments of wheat-laden sandwiches. No.

This petrol station had even got into bed with a top supermarket that matched its own stellar brand status and together they’d strategically placed various refrigerators, snack-stacks and shelves as an intentional obstacle course to get to the checkout.

This indeed is the new assault course, with the winner seemingly being he or she who gets to the other side with the most food accumulated along the way. They even provide baskets to assist.

Not only do petrol stations create an enticing drug den for sugar addicts to feed their habit, they also encourage over-eating in the general population – from the portion sizes on offer and from the full-on opportunity for eating when we’re not even (that) hungry.

We could get all polemic and rant about the irresponsibility of food sellers, businesses, even governments, all in cahoots around shareholder value, brand value, economic value, all ultimately feeding the masses with all manner of packaged poisons for profitability.

But at the end of the day, what we put into our mouths and why is all down to us. The fork, spoon or finger-bite is all in our power to choose.

For, if and when we have true respect for the body, for this awesome vehicle of Me, that takes Me everywhere, feels everything we do and don’t do, and still obeys the mind’s every whim, we are still left with a choice to nurture it, appreciate it, respect it or to disregard it. Simple.

Our lives and lifestyles have changed so much that we’ve lost sight of the natural rhythm and flow around eating. We’ll eat on-the-go, whilst driving, emailing our boss, travelling on a bus, watching TV, even shopping for clothes. We’re over-faced with food.

Luring us to buy sugary foods to refuel ourselves when we refuel our cars is definitely not about us but about business. The practice of eating on the go is now tolerated and embraced as totally normal.

Buying to eat en route – it’s the same principle as munching on popcorn in the dark at the cinema. Both require a screen for us to be either looking at or through. Both entail us doing something else as our main activity and both require us to negotiate unseen consumables into our mouths whilst undertaking that main activity. In the case of the cinema, that’s just a little awkward. When driving, that’s downright dangerous. Lives at stake. That sort of thing.

It’s not all about the flagrant disregard of the food distributors for the health of the nation through food content and composition, portion size and strategic product placement. Nor is it the irresponsibility they wield in rendering our roads stoked with sugar and coffee-fuelled drivers – both substances increasingly acknowledged to be addictive in themselves and carrying the propensity to alter behaviour patterns – in this case behind a wheel at national speed limits.

Yes, these are definitely microwave-hot issues that need addressing and we can finger point or divert the causal argument until we’re blue in the face.

We can wallow, indulge, invest in the reasons, emotions and hypotheses as to why we choose to indulge at petrol stations but that’s just another choice; one that keeps us from appreciating that there’s always a choice to be made – about whether it’s just vehicle petrol we’re after or whether our own vehicle really and truly wants that onslaught of sugar about to come its way from our treat-laden basket.

But the simple truth is we are the only ones responsible for our body, for our food choices, portion sizes, when and how often we eat, where and how we eat. All our own choices. Nobody else’s.

Filed under

ChocolateSugarOver eatingFood industryCaffeine

  • By Cathy Hackett

  • Photography: Leonne Sharkey, Bachelor of Communications

    For Leonne photography is about relationships, reflection and light. She is constantly amazed by the way a photo can show us all we need to know