“I have been trying to not eat at my desk or in my car. But I really miss being able to do so. I don’t think it leads me to eat any more than I otherwise would. I am not talking about an entire meal, but maybe having my carrots/hummus while perusing spreadsheets or on a long drive. Is this really such a bad habit?”
I think the primary reason that many nutritionists (including me) suggest that you avoid eating at your desk or in the car (or in front of the TV) is that eating when we are distracted can lead us to eat more than we would if we were paying more attention.
And if it’s M&Ms or chips that we’re mindlessly munching on, the damage–in terms of empty calories–can be considerable. Even if it’s a healthy but calorie-dense food like salted nuts, you can easily over do it when your mind is elsewhere.
But what if it’s a healthy snack? And what if it’s not leading you to overeat? What if it’s actually helping you get more vegetables into your day? What if having some vegetables on that long drive home means that you’re not so famished when you walk in the front door that you head straight for the cookie jar?
Knowing the rationale behind such “rules” can help you decide when it’s OK for you to break them. From what you’ve said, it doesn’t sound as if your desk-side snacking is sabotaging your diet. Crunch away.