When you're on the road and want to avoid fast food, a convenience store might be your best bet. But how to avoid the trap of chips and candies lining the route to the register? Believe it or not, there are some healthy snacks at convenience stores. You just need to know what to look for.
Instead of just grabbing the usual junk food, try some healthier convenience store options:
1. Swap Skittles or gummies for healthy fruit bars (but check the label).
Some fruit bars are no better than candy. But there are healthy fruit bars out there—like Lärabar—that have only whole food with a nice, short list of ingredients, such as dates, nuts, apple, cinnamon, etc. They're dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, soy-free, and vegan. They have no added sugars, preservatives, or flavorings. (Find out how to choose the healthiest energy bar.)
2. Swap cocktail peanuts for raw nuts.
Nuts are an excellent source of protein if you find the right kind. Avoid the ordinary salted cocktail peanuts or milk-chocolate covered varieties, which are often full of cheap ingredients—bad for you and for their shelf-life. Try healthier nuts that will give you a great boost of energy and healthy fats. Almonds are a particularly good choice. Steer clear of any that list oil in the ingredients. The oil may be the worst and cheapest kind—hydrogenated. Look for nuts that are dry roasted (without oil) or preferably raw.
3. Swap soda or sugary fruit juice for water.
Sometimes when we feel hungry, we're actually just thirsty—maybe even dehydrated. Be sure to stock up on bottled water or bring a refillable bottle. If you're traveling by car, consider getting gallon jugs. It's less wasteful for the environment, it costs less, and you won't have to make so many stops to buy more.
4. Swap sugar-added yogurt for healthy cheese.
Cheese is a solid dairy product so it's more filling than yogurt. Plus cheese doesn't have added sugar. Even better, look for organic brands, like Organic Valley or Rumiano. Their cheese is made from milk free of antibiotics and artificial hormones. Cheese will give you just as big a protein boost as yogurt and can soothe any hunger pangs. Couple it with a healthy brand of crackers (high in fiber and with no trans fats) and you're good to go for hours. (See: The Healthiest Cheese on the Planet.)
5. Swap the gas station hot dog for healthy jerky.
Gas station hot dogs are highly processed and can contain potato starch and wheat flour (to bind the meat), flavorants, excess salt, and nitrites, as well as a host of other chemical ingredients proven to have health risks. A reliable brand of jerky, on the other hand, is usually a lean meat product trimmed of fat so at least it's a little healthier than processed hot dogs.
6. Swap a Snickers for dark chocolate.
Look for dark chocolate that lists cacao—not sugar—as its first ingredient. Look for chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao. Dark chocolate has a ton of healthy vitamins and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It's a better choice than milk chocolate since it has far less sugar and fewer additives and flavorings. Plus, the caffeine will give you a boost of energy for the road too.
For more tips like these or to learn how to become a health coach, go to Health Coach Institute.