Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of traveling quite a bit to participate in various endurance races. YES, IT IS HARD to eat healthy and make healthy food choices while traveling (and in your everyday life). BUT, there are healthy alternatives out there for you to choose over the non-healthy snack choices.
Yes, it is clear that in every gas station or small food shop there are an abundance of unhealthy food choices. These unhealthy choices also tend to be a lot cheaper. BUT, when I look at the price of a healthy option compared to a non-healthy option I consider it an investment. An investment to my health and an investment to help me reach my health and fitness goals.
What is the first thing you typically see when you walk into the gas station or convenience store? That heavenly rack of full of chips, marked down candy bars, or sometimes even “Fresh Baked Donuts”. Although all of these things are very delicious snack options…they may not be the best option especially if you have a long car ride or if you are diligently working towards your fitness goals.
Typically the “healthy isle” is hidden in the back of the store. But, I have found that more and more gas stations are starting to carry healthy snack options.
Here are a good food options that I have been able to consistently find at gas stations:
- fresh fruit
- Dried fruit
- beef jerky
- mixed nuts & seeds
- trail mix
- peanut butter
- sandwiches and wraps
- energy bars
- protein bars
- protein drinks
- small veggie trays
One of my favorite “go-to” snack options. It is low-calorie, low high in fiber, and rich in monounsaturated fats. Although this snack packs a lot of sodium and more fats than I would like, I like to have these to snack on when I have a long trip and I feel as if I am getting tired. I have found that snacking on something like this helps me to take my mind of off zoning out while driving and helps to keep me alert and awake.
Another snack that may have a lot of sodium but it will help to deliver a nice dose of protein and does not pack a lot of calories. You can get a variety of flavors such as turkey, spicy, BBQ. BUT be careful because some flavor contain sugar to help make it sweet.
Energy or Protein Bars:
Another option that is great BUT you also have to be careful about which bar that you grab. ALWAYS check out the nutritional label when searching for something like a protein bar. Some bars contain just as much sugar and carbs as candy bars!! You want to grab a bar that is high in protein, low in carbs, and low in sugars. There are so many great options. You will just have to take a second, stop, and read the label before you walk away with it.
This can include varieties such as raisins, cranberries, banana chips, apple chips, etc. These are a great option for a longer car ride if you want fruit but do not want to grab fresh fruit. Make sure to also look at the label to make sure that there was not flavoring or added sugar added to these. Some companies just freeze dry the fruit and only adding agents to help preserve the fruit.
I do understand how hard it is to walk away from the gigantic chip isles that consume most convenient stores. If you do choose to grab a bag of crunchy goodness at least try to get the least heart clogging option! There are a lot of great varieties that are regularly being carried in stores. POPchips, baked kettle chips, and Special K also have a cracker chip that is also a good option. BUT if you have the time grab some popcorn and pop it at the gas station! Most gas stations have microwaves for you to use. Popcorn is lower in calories, carbs, and is a healthier option. You can also consider Rice cakes or even Quest Nutrition recently came out with a healthy chip option (I have NOT seen these in the stores but I purchase mine online and pack them in the car with me for my trips).
As always water is the BEST option. Keep in mind that you want to sip on your water and not guzzle it down. You can guzzle it down as quickly as you would like…but that may require you to stop at more gas stations while trying to reach your destination. A lot of stores are also carrying milk, fruit juice, and flavored carbonated water. As always, try to stay away from the drinks with empty calories. This applies to pretty much 90% of the drinks at a gas station. Some are starting to carry unsweetened tea and other healthier options for you to enjoy
I hope that this list was somewhat helpful. I know that when I first started traveling it was a continuous battle to stay away from the chip and candy isle. Some stores do not carry a variety of healthy options. That is why I typically carry my own “traveling snack pack” that has all of the healthy snacks that I typically crave while on a trip. I do enjoy going into gas stations and checking to see what items they do offer. I honestly tend to stop at the same locations if I know that they will have something that I may want or need for my trips. It does take time to look and plan these things out BUT it is so worth it. Like I stated above…Think of it as an investment! An investment to your health and an overall investment to your fitness goals.