Whether you are traveling on a long road trip or need a quick snack or beverage, it can sometimes be challenging to make healthy choices when on the go. One place we may find ourselves is a convenience store or gas station. We often think that there are no healthy options to eat when at a convenience store. Between prepackaged food, desserts, or high-calorie beverages, making a healthy choice can seem impossible! While there are some unhealthy items available, thinking about food and snacks differently can help us make smarter nutrition choices that align with our overall wellness goals.
Two ways to think about convenience store food or beverages could be:
- Will this item help me feel full? Look for items that contain protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Eating these foods can help us feel full. These items can include:
- Low-fat string cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Hard boiled eggs
- Tuna packets
- Protein bars
- Nuts, seeds, or nut butters – almonds, dry roasted peanuts, pistachios, peanut or almond butter, etc. (1/4 cup serving or less for nuts and seeds, 1 tablespoon serving ize for nut butters)
- Water or flavored water – not only are these options lower in calories, but will also help achieve our hydration goals!
- Will this item give me some beneficial nutrients? Look for items that are considered nutrient-dense foods containing fiber and other vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to work efficiently. These items can include:
- Fresh fruit or vegetables
- Leafy green salads
- Dried fruit (1/4 cup serving or less)
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Low Butter/Sodium Popcorn
- Hummus or guacamole
Here are a few examples of how we can combine some of these items from the two categories:
- String cheese or Greek yogurt and fresh fruit
- Hard-boiled eggs and vegetables or a leafy green salad
- Tuna packet and leafy green salad
- Jerky and low butter/sodium popcorn and a water
There are also some items that we want to try avoiding if possible. They can include:
- Hot bar food – many of these options are calorie-dense rather than nutrient-dense. They are usually packed with sodium and saturated fat.
- Pastries – as tasty as they are, these are also higher in calories, sugar, and saturated fat. These also won’t keep us feeling full for very long!
- Potato chips – these can also be high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium.
- High-calorie beverages – these may include sodas, energy drinks, and high-sugar coffees/cappuccinos.
So the next time you are faced with convenience store food and beverage choices, remember the two questions listed above. Happy convenience store shopping!
By, Coach Sarah