Eat like a Dietitian, even at your nearest convenient store.
It may feel hard to eat healthy options on the go but, with a little know-how, you will make out just fine on the road. Whether you are counting calories, making smarter food choices, or simply tired of eating junk food, you can find a healthier option at your next pit-stop.
In general, it is best to stick to 1 serving size of the product you choose. It can be easy to consume the whole package, which may be 2, 2.5, or more servings – always check the label. Another across the board tip would be to buy the smallest size of the product you can find. You won’t overeat (and ruin your dinner, ha!) if you buy a 2oz bag of something versus a 10oz bag.
Here are 10 items to be on the lookout for when you stop for gas or a bathroom break and want a snack from inside.
1. Fresh Fruit
A lot of convenient stores carry fresh fruit, like apples, bananas, and oranges. You might have to look for the lonely and dejected corner of the store or ask the attendant but you’ll hopefully be pleasantly surprised by who carries them.
2. String Cheese
If the convenient store has a cold section on the floor away from the drinks, there’s a good chance they have string cheese and/or cottage cheese in it. Some may have variations, like string cheese with another item, yet they are available. I’ve even seen some convenient stores have a bag of string cheese vs singles; they may be in an upright cooler like drinks.
3. Cottage Cheese
Again, look for the cooler that is on the floor away from drinks. You may find sandwiches and sweet treats there, too. Stay alert and opt for the healthier choice of cottage cheese. It is paired with something like fruit, just eat the cottage cheese and skip the high sugar mix-in.
Think bye, bye, bye from N’Sync back in the 90s for pronunciation. Bai is a low-calorie, low-sugar water infused drink. It’s a favorite of mine if I want a change from water while on the road; I enjoy Molokai Coconut flavor best. It has antioxidants and a range of flavors. Not bad for those who don’t care for plain water or for those just wanting something different ever so often.
You can definitely find nuts at nearly any convenient store. Opt for no salt added, if available; otherwise, the plainer the better. Look at nutrition labels for too many ingredients, stick to the snack pack not a large bag, and keep an eye on portion sizes as nuts can add up on calories quickly.
6. Fairlife Milk
Want to keep up with your macros? Fairlife milk is a great beverage choice at the convenient store. This particular brand of milk has 50% more protein and 50% less sugar, compared to regular milk. The secret is the ultra-filtration process that concentrates the protein and filters sugar. CorePower is another beverage you may see that is made by Fairlife and would be another good choice while on the road.
7. Chocolate Covered Nuts
For a sweet tooth like me, chocolate covered nuts can help with cravings. The nut is a healthy fat and the chocolate is sweet. Grab a small, 2oz bag of your choosing and stick to a serving size or make sure the whole bag fits into your health goals.
8. Protein Bar
All protein bars are not created equal. And you may have a limited selection at a convenience store. Qualifications of a high quality protein bar include a balance of fats, protein, and fiber; use high-quality protein sources like eggs, whey protein isolate, or pea protein; and contain whole foods. They should also have a high fiber (3 grams or more) content, be low in sugar (no more than 13 grams), have 200 to 400 calories total (like a snack); and ideally 12-15 grams of protein per bar. Ones I have seen at a convenience store are RXBar and KIND Protein. A popular bar in QuickTrip stores is Barebell, so I hear.
Jerky can hide added sugars and too much sodium, so check the label. Ideally, you want no added sugar (and total sugar as low as possible) and less than 500 mg sodium per serving. Epic is a brand that makes and sells jerky in convenience stores without sugar and a high protein content from a crazy amount of animals, like beef, venison, salmon, wild boar, lamb, and more.
10. Chips or Popcorn
Pre-popped popcorn that is simply seasoned with salt is a great option that may be found in most convenient stores. SkinnyPop and PopCorners are two brands I have seen. There are always plenty of chip options and the criteria for picking a good one is 1) grab the smallest bag available, 2) still stick to one serving size, and 3) the plainer the better (think lightly salted for flavoring vs cheesy or flaming hot). I’ve seen baked chips, which would be a good option here.
I recently stopped at Buc-ce’s and, after wading through the crowd in the parking lot and inside, I found a small package of meringues to hit the sweet spot for me. It’s not a nutrient-dense purchase by any means but for something sweet, fat free, and low calorie (8 meringues for 20 calories) this was a good pick. Plus, they tasted great!