Why You Need to Rethink What Your Teenage Athlete Eats

Teens can be grumpy and surly enough without hanger creeping in. Here are a few ways to manage their healthy appetites.

In a world where many parents might be concerned about their children overeating and putting on weight, I have the opposite problem.

I have to ensure that my daughter – a gymnast who trains over 12 hours a week – eats enough nutrient-dense calories and protein-rich food to not only get her through the long school days, but to sustain her through her training sessions.

The trouble with the high school lunch rush.

I’ve put a considerable amount of time and effort in to making sure my children make healthy eating choices, however, I didn’t account for the difficulties of being the youngest group in a huge school. The younger ones are basically at the bottom of the food chain at my daughter’s high school. In other words, they get what’s left. That meant my daughter would be lucky to grab a panini for lunch and fill up on some other white carb and sugar snacks to get her through the day.

With a 12-hour day at least three days a week, we began to see a real change in our daughter’s personality. Often too tired to eat when she came home after gymnastics, she was sustaining herself on very little food and this made for one very grumpy girl. Blood sugar highs and lows don’t mix with pre-existing teenage temperaments and something had to change, for all our sakes.

Teens don’t always want to take their parents’ advice.

Thank goodness she’s dedicated to her sport enough to take my advice when it comes to eating sensibly and thank goodness she lets the comments about her relatively low weight roll off her back because she knows it’s just typical teenage jealousy talking.

Since coming to the decision that school lunches weren’t enough to sustain her, I started putting together protein-rich and calorie-dense lunches that would. I didn’t want to completely take away the decision-making freedom that high school gives you, so I involved her, bringing together both of our ideas to make something that would not only be more nutritious, but that she would also eat.

On a gym day, her lunch box looks something like this:

This may seem like a lot of food, but bearing in mind she leaves home at 7:30 A.M.  and gets home at 8 P.M., it’s enough to see her through break times, after school and post training.

Change in diet = personality transplant.

Gone is the whinging, lethargic girl who struggled to keep up with her day. In her place is a girl full of energy, happy, relaxed, and fun to be around. This change was necessary in order for her to take her gymnastics training to the next level.

We had also warned her that in order to do all this training, she must keep up with her grades at school. Eating properly is key to being able to do that, and if she wants to silence her critics about not eating enough, she can always show them what’s in her school bag. I think they might be surprised by what they find in there.

What Happens When the Parent is the Picky Eater?

It’s not always the parent trying to coax the kid into eating more adventurous eating. Some of us are raising tiny incarnations of Anthony Bourdain.

At his favorite restaurant, a gaudy massive Chinese buffet, my son Owen fills his plate with baby octopi. He doesn’t just eat them, he dissects with commentary. For a picky eater like me, listening to descriptions of texture and anatomy is almost more than I can bear.

My first child ate virtually nothing after he gave up nursing. My husband and I are robustly built people who couldn’t get our little one to eat more than a bite or two, leaving us a very physically mismatched family. The kid is nine now and still considers food an annoyance that interrupts his life.

So when baby Owen arrived, I was ready for food fights once again. But from his first joyous bite of applesauce — no spoon, straight from a pile on his high chair tray — Owen has loved food. Not just treats, not just when he’s bored, not just when he’s hungry. The kid savors flavors and wants to explore them.

Miso soup is a favorite, full of umami and salt. “What are the white squares?” he asks.

I don’t want to ruin it for him so I’m wary answering. “It’s called tofu. It’s like…hmm.” I hate tofu so I’m at a loss for words.

Owen doesn’t wait for my explanation, though. He scoops a few cubes into the deep spoon, looks carefully at them, and then eats.

“It doesn’t taste like anything.”

The food adventures began as a male bonding exercise. My husband loves trying all kinds of food, especially the ones that make me squeamish. Owen learned early on that a willingness to sample new foods made his father proud. He was an early adopter of asparagus and artichokes, salmon roe and stinky cheeses, long before he could even tie a shoe. Father and son became a team.

Owen’s food love has grown past his father-son relationship. For his fifth birthday he wanted our friend to make him obento for lunch. I’d made arranged standard America fare into cute bento box style for months, but that wasn’t what he wanted. Hard-boiled egg cut into the shape of an animal, seaweed wrapped rice ball looking like a masked ninja, tiny sausages steamed into tentacle creatures. Our friend was thrilled to have a fan club so she went all out on my boy’s special Japanese lunch. It was easily his favorite part of the day, far surpassing the Spiderman festooned cake.

Seafood and Asian specialties are at the top of Owen’s list. The funkier the smell, the better. He enjoys his foodie identity as part of what makes him unique. I love this about him. He’s unswayed by the kids at lunch with their boring sandwiches. I pack him nori (dried and crunchy seaweed), Thai dried shredded fish, and cantaloupe.

I’m never going to be a brave eater. I abhor anything white or creamy and, honestly, this is fairly limiting. But each time Owen grocery shops with me we try to select a new food to try out as a family. Cactus fruit, cinnamon sticks, the olive bar with its dozen options, rambutans. The cactus, nopales, will not be coming back even with the spikes taken out. Some olives were more popular than others with their strong brine, though I find all varieties vile. But the alien looking spiky fruit spheres with a sweet gelatinous layer inside covering the enormous seed? I love those things! Without Owen, I never would have tried them.

I love to watch Owen overcome his fears – of food, of cockroaches, of anything – and surpass me in life. And it’s not just the food. I like to think my little son is more open to unfamiliar experiences in general. Will he bravely go off to science camp with strangers? Skydive? Choose an unpopular political opinion? I hope he’ll listen to his own voice – not just about what to eat, but what to think, and who to be.

We’re planning a family trip to Thailand soon. I’m excited to explore, and try new things. But I’m nervous too. Big cities, unfamiliar culture, unknown language, and the sheer mass of humanity. Oh yeah, and the pan roasted bugs I’ve heard so much about.

I know that with Owen’s guidance, I’ll step outside my comfort zone, order something more than plain steamed rice, and try to open up to whatever comes my way. Even if it once lived in the ocean, or worse yet, under a rock.

Should We Pressure Kids to Clean Their Plates?

Studies link parental behaviors around food to eating problems in kids. But giving up pressure-to-eat doesn’t mean giving up healthy eating.

My husband and I are foodies; we eat a predominantly vegetarian diet that is full of food that many American parents would consider “not kid-friendly” – things like collard greens, pad thai, and whole wheat bread with lots of seeds. 

Our two children have been eating what we eat at almost every meal since their first bite of solid food (though I suppose that applies to breastmilk too).

For the most part, they have surprisingly open tastes when it comes to food.

But life is not perfect at our dinner table.  We have our nights when our kids refuse to eat, either because the food is not to their liking, we are eating too late and they are grumpy and tired, or (most often) because they aren’t hungry enough to finish what they are served.  These nights are a constant battle for us, and unfortunately consistency is not our strong point.  Our responses on any given night could include any one of the following:

  • “You’re not leaving the table until your plate is empty.”
  • “Just eat three more bites and you can earn dessert.”
  • “It’s your choice, but if you don’t eat you won’t be getting another snack before bed.”
  • “Just eat as much as you can.”

Quite frequently, my husband and I have different opinions of how it should be handled.  No wonder our kindergartener alternates between cleaning his plate, making his own decision to forgo dessert, negotiating with us, or throwing a temper tantrum.

I recently turned to research to see if there was a preferable approach to this nightly dilemma.  If scholars can agree on the appropriate parental behavior, then perhaps my husband and I can agree too?  Here are some of the things I learned.

There is a name for the behavior I’m talking about: parental pressure-to-eat.

First, there is a name for the behavior I’m talking about: parental pressure-to-eat.  It’s when parents pressure their child either to eat in general, or to eat healthy foods.   It applies to the “clean your plate” approach and the “you must eat your broccoli” approach as well as the “three more bites and you can have dessert approach.”  It is a highly studied phenomenon.  I did a Google Scholar search for articles published in the last three years and found at least 20 relevant studies within a few minutes.

Second – and here’s the difficult news – many of these studies link parental behaviors around food with eating problems in childhood and later in life.   The fact is, we parents have a lot of say in what our children eat and so we have the potential to contribute highly to our children’s tendencies to be picky eaters, emotional eaters, overweight teenagers, or teenagers with eating disorders. In short, both pressure-to-eat strategies and restrictive strategies can have a negative impact on children’s ability to self-regulate their diet.  Researchers argue that we are “socializing our children to eat past their internal hunger/satiety clues” (Orrel-Valente, 2006).

What’s more, according to a review of the research on this topic by Mitchell et al (2013), “the stress and anxiety that can surround difficult mealtimes can have a detrimental impact upon both child and parental psychological wellbeing”.  I can relate to that after a few nights of conflict-filled dinners.

For those of us who have given in to the “clean your plate” pressure, or the tendency to bribe with dessert, there is some more bad news: a growing collection of research seems to be showing that pressure-to-eat strategies aren’t working.

A laboratory experiment conducted by Galloway et al (2006) showed that when kids were given constant messages to finish what they were served they actually ate less than kids who were not given those messages.   Kids who were not pressured to eat also made “fewer negative comments” – a worthy goal, I think we could all agree.

Girl Eating Dinner

So, if pressure-to-eat is the not the way to go, what’s a parent to do?

Let’s start with the idea that giving up pressure-to-eat does not mean giving up healthy eating.  If we have such high potential to contribute to our children’s negative eating challenges, we also have great potential to contribute to their eating success.  We aren’t supposed to just sit back and let them do whatever they want.

According to a study published by researchers in New Zealand (Haszard et al, 2015), “healthy eating guidance and monitoring by parents were related to the consumption of fewer unhealthy foods.” Notice the words used by these researchers – they bear repeating – guidance and monitoring. Not pressure or force feeding.  When parents didn’t monitor their kids’ eating and gave the kids high levels of freedom over what they chose to eat, kids became fussy eaters.  Conversely, when parents were somewhat “food restrictive” and gave children choices within limits children ended up eating more healthy fruits and vegetables.  As Loth et al (2013) described, parents should be “educated and empowered” so that they can anticipate problems in advance and be prepared to help their children make healthy choices.

One way we can be educated is to learn a bit about portion size and the variability in kids’ energy intake.  The USDA guidelines for children age 6-12 state that lunch or dinner should consist of: 1 cup of milk; ¾ cup of fruits or vegetables; 1 grain/bread; and one serving of protein (2 oz of meat, for example, or a ½ cup beans).  Likewise, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that portions should be “child size” until adolescence.  I highly suspect there are nights in our household where we overfill our kids’ plates, setting them up for failure.

Even within these guidelines, we also have to trust our kids a bit more to know how hungry they are.  A classic study by the New England Journal of Medicine (Birch et al, 1991) confirmed earlier studies showing that kids are pretty good at adjusting how much they eat from meal-to-meal and ending up with an appropriate overall daily intake with little to no adult guidance.

It’s pretty impressive what kids can do if we let go a little and give them a bit more ownership over their bodies.

The overall message, as I interpret it, seems to be that we should teach our kids about healthy foods and we should help to influence their good eating habits by providing right-sized healthy meals and limiting sweets, but we should not impose “clean your plate” rules just for the sake of those rules, nor should we completely disallow sweets here and there.   We need to coach our children so that they will be able to make their own decisions about food and healthy eating as they leave our dinner table for other venues.

There is one other extremely important message in a number of the research studies I read.  What parents eat matters.

There is one other extremely important message in a number of the research studies I read.  What parents eat matters.  As one study that looked at the influence of mothers’ eating on their daughters’ food habits stated: “findings suggest that parents should focus less on ‘picky eating’ behavior and more on modeling fruit and vegetable consumption for their children” (Galloway et al, 2005).  We cannot use the “do as I say and not as I do” strategy if we want our kids to learn about healthy eating.  This supports the theory that we should feed kids what we are eating, as long as what we are eating is a healthy choice (for more on this, read about Bee Wilson’s new book First Bite: How we Learn to Eat).

There are a ton of resources out there on how to help kids enjoy healthy foods, and many present strong alternatives to the pressure-to-eat approach.  But when it comes to actually sitting down at the dinner table, this research has encouraged my husband and me to try the following strategies:

  1. Eat meals together so that we can role-model healthy choices and our kids don’t expect a special meal prepared to their specifications;
  2. Start with realistic serving sizes and encourage our kids to ask for more if they are hungry;
  3. Offer our kids a few choices of healthy options (small servings to avoid waste) so that they have some say in what they are going to eat, but all choices are acceptable to us;
  4. Better yet, have our older son choose some of his own meals, helping him to select the right combination of  food groups;
  5. Explain to our children that they don’t have to finish their plate, but that they might have to wait until the next regular meal or snack time for more food.

There is a great deal of art to helping kids eat healthy foods – we can create amazing recipes, bring them right to the garden to see where their food comes from, and get their hands dirty in the kitchen – but there is also a great deal of science that can help to illuminate promising practices.  In our household, these strategies are definitely worth a try.  Good food is too important to fight about.

*I encourage you to visit some of these links and read articles yourself; for guidance on how to interpret an academic article, see Information Overload: Navigating the Research on Raising Kids

You Should Avoid Using Teflon Around Kids, Because Science

Exposure to a toxic chemical used in Teflon until 2015 is linked to several cancers, diseases and negative health outcomes. An updated look at the data.

TLDR; Teflon products manufactured before 2015 contain a chemical called C8, which is a known toxin that’s readily absorbed by the body. For family health, it’s smart to reduce exposure to Teflon products made more than a year ago.

It’s too bad that Teflon cooking products made before 2015 can be considered toxic. I like my Teflon pans. And they weren’t cheap. But facts are facts – and recently released company documents show that DuPont agrees.

C8 – used in Teflon products made before 2015 – is toxic. Evidence shows a probable link between exposure to C8 (a chemical used in Teflon until 2015) and a long list of diseases, including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

The Intercept reports that “even very low exposure levels were associated with health effects.”

All of this has been documented over the past month in the New York Times MagazineThe InterceptHuffPost Highline, and Alternet, who published “For More Than 50 Years, DuPont Concealed the Cancer-Causing Properties of Teflon.”

For a summary of those articles and an interview with the author of Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8, read this post on The Awl.

DuPont phased out C8 in 2015. Food packaging, microwave popcorn bags, textiles, and carpeting (the biggest sources of Teflon exposure in most US homes) will no longer be made with the chemical.

However, most American homes are still full of C8-enriched Teflon products. They will be for years.

Our kitchens and carpets aren’t the only things full of C8 – so are our bodies.

C8 resists biodegrading. According to this study from the Centers for Disease Control, it can be found in 98 percent of Americans bloodstreams, and in umbilical cord blood and breast milk.

The Seattle Times reports that:

“If you are using non-stick products, simply because your food doesn’t stick to it, you should know that research studies have found toxic chemical C8 contaminates your food and can result in high blood pressure in pregnant women, immune system disorder, thyroid, liver problems and higher cholesterol rate, even in children. As a matter of fact, the researchers have discovered that high blood pressure epidemic (as a result of chemical C8 in non-stick products) is usually combined with protein leakage into urine that can cause pre-eclampsia which threatens the health and life of both mother and the baby.” – Seattle Times 

New research from Brown University found that C8 has been linked to increased body fat and faster weight gain in children whose mothers were exposed to high levels during pregnancy.

As reported in Discover Magazine, “children of mothers whose exposure was highest weighed less at two than their less-exposed counterparts but weighed almost 2.5 more pounds at age eight.”

Don’t Panic (But It’s Still Better to Be Safe Than Sick & Sorry)

Most of the advice about cooking with Teflon says that it’s safe to use in the kitchen if kept under 550 degrees (when it starts to release gaseous fumes). And the Food and Drug Administration says Teflon cookware is acceptable for conventional kitchen use.

WebMD says “But while C8 is still a concern, it’s unlikely that we get most of our exposure from the use of nonstick pans.” The Guardian reports that in “a typical US home, exposure from carpets, upholstery, and textiles or clothing carries a higher risk than non-stick cookware.”

In 2014, Eating Well Magazine wrote that they are “taking what we feel is a sensible but cautious approach” and will keep using Teflon coated pans.

Still, there is ample evidence shows that C8 can easily transfer into the body.  Why risk it?

Alternatives to Teflon

Many people started used Teflon so they could avoid using cooking fat. But it turns out that cooking with fat like olive oil has many health benefits. And using a bit of oil to keep your food from sticking doesn’t necessarily lead to weight gain. (Does Olive Oil Make You Fat?)

Here are four types of pans that are non-toxic. Eating Well recommends good old seasoned cast iron pans here. I’ve been using the same stainless steel set for over a decade.

Cooking technique determines how much food sticks to a pan. Read “The Real Reason Your Food Sticks To The Pan” for tips to reduce sticking.

And if it’s cleanup you’re worried about, just let your pans soak for a bit. A bit of red wine is healthy for your heart – enjoy that while the pan is in the sink.

Or get your kids to clean the pans. You can always tell them that they’re scrubbing because you love them enough not to poison them with Teflon.

Admit It, Baby Carrots Are Gross

Bagged baby carrots are convenient and cute. And orange. But in my house, we’ve gone back to the original convenient-cute-and-orange snack: cheese doodles. Just kidding. Carrot sticks. That’s because I recently admitted a long-suppressed truth: bagged baby carrots are gross.

I’m not talking about true baby carrots –  that is, immature carrots pulled out of the ground all tender and delicious – I’m talking about manufactured baby-cut carrots, bagged and shipped by the metric ton.

6 Reasons Bagged Baby Carrots Are The Worst

1. The slime. How do people pretend this doesn’t exist? How did I pretend it doesn’t exist? Rationally I know that the slimy film inside baby carrot bags is just moisture (ew, moist). But carrot slime, no thanks.

2. The lack of carrot flavor. Maybe the lack of flavor doesn’t matter since baby carrots are often just a vessel for getting hummus or peanut butter into your mouth. But whole carrots taste awesome. Carrot is a delicious flavor. You might have forgotten this if you’ve recently only eaten bagged baby carrots. To be fair, baby carrots can be crunchy and sweet, but so is an ice cube with a little sugar in it. (Sidenote – invent a carrot flavored popsicle.)

3. The vaguely industrial aftertaste. If baby carrots have a distinct flavor, I would describe it as “factory fresh.” I used to blame the chlorine baby carrots are rinsed with before they’re bagged up. But it turns out that minimal chlorine is used to wash baby carrots – sometimes even less than what’s found in drinking water.

Maybe the aftertaste is just part of the bagged baby carrot experience.

4. The expense. Baby carrots cost more than twice as much per pound as whole carrots.

For example, on Amazon Fresh, organic baby carrots cost $1.99 per pound while organic whole carrots cost .90¢ per pound.

To put that in real world numbers, imagine using baby carrots instead of whole carrots in this amazing carrot cake recipe. That would add $1.20 per cake.

If you made and ate one of these cakes every day for year (highly recommended), that would cost an additional $438. That’s the cost of an Apple Watch plus sales tax.

That’s what baby carrots are potentially costing you. An Apple Watch. If you don’t own an Apple Watch, you can blame the baby carrots disintegrating in your fridge.

5. The waste. Bagged baby carrots were originally invented to reclaim malformed carrots that no one wanted to eat. They were designed to cut down on carrot waste. I think can we all can agree that not wasting carrots is a very noble cause.

But whole carrots last longer in the fridge. Since they’re larger and less processed, they don’t get limp and gross as fast as baby carrots. That means you can put off eating them longer, which is actually what many people do.

Anyway, maybe farmers should simply compost the funky carrots, and then use the compost for kale, before that trend finally runs out of steam. (Get it?).

6. Baby carrots are the margarine of vegetables. Ok, they’re quite not that bad. But, like margarine, they’re an industrial food product, grown and distributed by giant companies, backed by market research, packaging, and advertising. That’s another kind of waste entirely.

They’re just carrots, man. Enjoy them for what they are.

A Traditional Carrot Recipe

This recipe for carrots has been handed down for generations. It’s found in several regional cuisines.

  • get a whole carrot
  • rinse it off
  • cut off the top and the tip of the carrot
  • cut the carrot in half
  • lay the halves flat-side down on the cutting board
  • cut them in half the long way
  • then cut them in half in the middle

This dish is called “Carrot Sticks.” It’s delightful.


A Pediatrician Warns About Traps Around Food and Parenting

With all this focus on obesity, it’s easy to understand how we can let fear drive our decision-making process around nutrition, but it’s important that we recognize that swinging the pendulum too far the other way is just as dangerous.

“You know, all those kids whose parents were sending them to school with carrot sticks and avocados and 3 oz of lean turkey 5 years ago are now showing up in my office as pre-teens with serious eating issues.  They are starving and now they have this wonky idea about the role food plays in their lives.  I wish I could record some of the conversations I have with these kids, so their parents could hear how messed up their views on food and nutrition are. I spend half my time trying to re-educate them, but many of the kids say they have to sneak to eat anything that isn’t sanctioned by mom or dad.”

I almost fell out of my chair when my friend who is a nutritionist and pediatrician shared this with me.  I asked her to share three tips she would give parents that would help correct this dangerous trend.

I have listed her suggestions for creating a more balanced approach to nutrition.

1.  Keep your own eating issues out of the equation. When talking to the parents whose kids communicate unhealthy ideas around food, eating and nutrition, it is immediately understood that it is the parents’ issue that is driving the decisions around their child’s nutrition.

Either parents are afraid kids will struggle with weight issues and start focusing too heavily on calorie counting at a very young age or they are hyper vigilant about disease and limit any and all processed food.

2.  It’s tempting to connect nutrition, food, and fuel for the body, to body size, body type or body weight in order to “motivate” kids to eat in healthier ways.

Unfortunately, the minute parents begin making those connections is the minute many kids start thinking there is something wrong with their bodies.

Teaching kids about healthy nutrition starts by inviting them to look at cookbooks to find tasty meals, weighing fruit and veggies at the grocery store, selecting healthy snacks and sometimes, not so healthy snacks, and then being invited into the kitchen where they have the opportunity to develop a healthy relationship with food.

3. Everything in Moderation. Whether you are Vegan, Paleo, or somewhere in between, your kids need a variety of food to not only stay healthy, but to develop that healthy relationship with food.

Limiting certain foods or denying them all together will only create power struggles and eating problems. When kids see their friends eating those tasty treats and they know what the “food policy” is in their homes, the more tempted they are to sneak which leaves them feeling badly about who they are and nervous about talking to their folks.

Parents must first examine their own relationship with food, health, nutrition, and disease and deal with those issues personally.

Then, seek out a nutritionist who can help address concerns and assist in helping the parents create a more balanced approach to nutrition.

With all this focus on obesity, it’s easy to understand how we can let fear drive our decision-making process around nutrition, but it’s important that we recognize that swinging the pendulum too far the other way is just as dangerous.

On the Road Again? Pack These Foods.

Skip the fast food and unhealthy roadside fare on your next family road trip and bring these snacks instead.

Growing up, our vacations were road trips to visit family in Toronto or Virginia. Six hours of sitting side-by-side-by-side with siblings, parents and, sometimes, my grandmother—often in a sedan. All of us listening to 1) the same radio station, unhappily; 2) my dad calling every other driver a bastard, and 3) each other repeatedly inquiring how much longer we had to go. So I mostly have repressed the details of these dreadful drives (just kidding, Mom! Love you, Dad!)—but I’m pretty sure that road food meant stopping, halfway, at a McDonald’s in Buffalo or Breezewood.

Now, as a parent, the family roadtrips I plan—to visit my parents, or my husband’s—are double, even triple, the length of those I took as a kid. We allow videos, received happily; we travel in a giant van; and I pack plenty of road food and eating supplies, like this:

Everyone brings a water bottle. And each individual is responsible for refilling it, as needed, at stops.

Pack sandwiches on good bread. We do turkey, cheese and mustard (with a PB&J for our pickier kid) on whole-grain bread,  wrap them in aluminum foil and store them in a small cooler. I’m typically not a sandwich-for-lunch person but there’s nothing better on the road. Packing our own saves money, time—and us from having to settle for fast food, or one of those pre-made sandwiches that always seems weirdly cold and soggy.

Rely on ready-to-eat veggies: We like carrots, cherry tomatoes and snap peas. My kids never eat more vegetables than when they’re captive in a van, hungry, with few other options.

Bring whole fruits that travel well. Apples are great, and pears and grapes and clementines. I always bring a big Ziploc bag to contain cores and peels without mess.

Supplement with snacks. I usually bring one salty and one sweet. Pretzels and Pirate’s Booty are popular with our crew. Often, I pre-portion single servings into baggies (so I don’t house the whole big bag). I also bring two stainless steel bowls, with lids, for easier eating by kids. For a sweet, I pack my go-to homemade chocolate-chip (or leftover [fill in the last holiday] candy) cookies, which I mostly always have stashed in the freezer.

Coffee stops are fair game. Re-caffeinating on the road, in our book, is simply being a responsible driver—and navigator. Safe travels!