Downside to Healthy Eating?

We drove my new Hyundai Accent on our recent trip to Carlsbad Caverns and San Diego. And nearly ran out of gas three times.

Both my husband’s current vehicle and my previous one have pretty big gas tanks—14-16 gallons. The new car is a petite 11-gallon job, not allowing for much leeway if you get below half a tank in the big open spaces of West Texas and California. From Carlsbad, NM, to El Paso (after the cave, we looped back into Texas to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park), a distance of about 120 miles, there is not one gas station. We left Carlsbad with less than half a tank, stopped for lunch at a sweet little café that the park ranger warned us had no gas, and nearly coasted into the first Exxon station on the outskirts of El Paso.

A little out of focus, but note the jean- and boot-clad table leg (and Chloe’s “hook ’em”)

According to the receipt, we had one gallon left, so in reality we had at least another 35 miles,* but my heart was still in my mouth, and by then we all needed to pee, especially Chloe, who started asking about halfway between the café and the gas station. (This was the second time we ran low–the first was just before Fort Stockton, Texas, and there was still one ahead: between El Centro and El Cajon, California, there are about two gas stations, and we paid well over $4 a gallon to get us over the mountains. After my begging that we have no repeats on the return trip, on the last day Gary refilled three times between Las Cruces, N.M., and Austin.)

Apparently I’m a Hyundai Accent. After my “PRSD” episode of stress and fatigue on the trip, I saw my doctor to make sure there isn’t an underlying problem. He did blood work and prescribed a mild anxiolytic to help me sleep.

He also told me I wasn’t refueling often enough. He said people who are careful about weight and diet often don’t get enough protein. “But I had an omelet for lunch!” I protested. “Great,” he responded, “but don’t expect it to last six hours.” He said a healthy eater’s emphasis on fruits and vegetables is fine but doesn’t fill up the tank, and he recommended protein boosts throughout the day—a license to eat nuts, yogurt,  jerky? Hey, maybe I should carry a can of tuna in my purse.

So my telling Gary at Sea World and the Zoo that Chloe and I needed more frequent stops for refueling wasn’t off-base.


* Thumbing through the manual while Gary was driving, I learned that the odometer provides not only estimated mpg (which sometimes exceeded 40), but also a “miles to empty” option. But by the time we used that option, it showed “—,” which translated to “You’re screwed. Get gas NOW,” more or less.


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