Gas station shops, liquor stores, and 7-Elevens are not known for healthy snacks, but convenience. These shops are a great way for quick and easy nourishment, but just how nourished is your body after a pitstop at one of these places? The answer—not very.
People are busier and broker than ever, so taking extra time and spending more money on health can feel counterproductive, but it is possible to eat healthy without breaking the bank.
In fact, the shops you’re already visiting on your morning commute just might improve your health, if you know what to look for. Here are some healthy snacks you can find at most gas stations, 7-Eleven, and other convenience stores.
You may not have noticed — distracted by the brightly colored packaging that seems to define these places — but a large number of these shops sell bananas, apples, oranges, and other fruits. This is about as healthy a food as you can find anywhere, let alone a convenience store.
- Natural sugars provide energy.
- Most fruits are low in fats, sodium, and total calories
- Great source of Vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, folate, and other nutrients.
- Low caloric content means you’ll be less full, and get hungry again sooner.
- Some fruits can cause indigestion or gas.
Not all yogurt is exactly healthy due to high sugar contents, but most will provide at least some benefits over other snacks.
Yogurts are also pretty common at gas stations and 7-Elevens. Just make sure to check the expiration date.
- Probiotics found in yogurt can aid digestion, promote gut health, and strengthen the immune system.
- Yogurts contain many vitamins and nutrients, including B-vitamins, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
- Many yogurts, particularly Greek yogurt, are very high in protein.
- Yogurt contains dairy, so it’s not ideal for lactose-intolerant individuals.
- Many yogurts contain a significant amount of added sugar.
Carrot / Celery Packs
Probably the most accessible and enjoyable of the veggies, carrots or celery packs are commonly sold in the refrigerated section of many a convenience store.
- Carrots and celery are low-calorie foods.
- They contain fiber, natural sugars, and a small amount of protein.
- Some of these snacks come with ranch, which isn’t exactly healthy. However, veggies are still one of the best convenience store options you can get, and the ranch is usually a small amount.
- Low-calorie snacks like vegetables are less filling than other snacks.
Peanuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds—you name the nut, and chances are high those snacks are healthy. As long as they aren’t coated in sugar or chocolate, nuts of any kind are a great trade-off in terms of protein versus calories.
Even the less healthy options are far better than any snacks you’ll find in the chip aisle, so don’t stress if all that really catches your eye are honey-roasted varieties or trail mixes.
- Most nuts are high in protein.
- Nuts are high in quality fats, as well, which your body can use for sustained energy.
- Packaged nuts tend to be high in sodium.
- Some are less healthy due to the trans fats contained in partially hydrogenated oils.
Ahh, meat. To many people, it’s hard to fill up without a meat or other protein-heavy snack. Luckily, the majority of convenience stores sell some form of jerky.
- Jerkies are made of meat, and thus, they are high in protein content.
- Most contain few to no carbohydrates, depending on how the jerky was cured.
- Jerkies are usually very high in sodium.
- Almost any amount of jerky will be more expensive than the other snacks you’ll find on the shelves.
Canned tuna is one of the healthiest options you might find at one of these shops. Its list is short in terms of benefits, but there are also very few drawbacks.
- Often containing over 20g of protein per can, tuna is one of the easiest ways to feel fuller, longer.
- Tuna is loaded with healthy fats that provide energy much longer than simple sugars or carbs.
- Fish options like tuna contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for blood pressure and cardiac health.
- Tuna contains mercury, which is a known neurological toxin. This is only understood to be dangerous at very high levels, so eating cans of tuna daily is not recommended. For a quick and healthy snack on the go, however, it’s perfectly fine.
- Got a can opener?
Water, Tea, and Coconut Water
Sometimes, hydrating with water or getting a caffeine boost from some sugar-free iced tea can help fight off feelings of hunger.
What’s more, some people have a hard time distinguishing between hunger and thirst cues. You might not be hungry at all, but rather in need of a long, cool drink.
- Most sugar-free or low-calorie beverages contain few or zero calories.
- This can help promote weight loss by training you to skip unnecessary meals.
- Drinks won’t fill you up when you are truly hungry.
Gum isn’t exactly a snack, but it can serve a similar purpose as healthy beverages. Sometimes your hunger pains are more akin to boredom. In this case, stopping for a pack of gum might make all the difference and quell that “hunger.”
At the very least, you’ll distract yourself until a place with plenty of healthy snacks hits the horizon.
- Some gums contain xylitol and are thus recommended by many dentists because they are said to strengthen teeth.
- Most gums have zero or few calories, depending on the amount of sugar each stick contains.
- Sugary gums are bad for teeth and not healthy.
- Gum isn’t filling when you are truly hungry.
Road trips, exhausting trips to or from work, errands—the temptation to grab quick junk food never seems to end. Convenience stores have a plethora of options but, when you know what to look for, however, you can often find healthy snacks and even kombucha anywhere. Some of these items can be added to your favorite smoothie recipes. And if you wanted an extra “boost”, you can add a bit of protein powder to kick your healthy lifestyle into a new gear.
If nothing else, you’ll discover options that aren’t nearly as bad for you as sugary, fat-filled choices. When it comes to eating right, those small substitutions can add up to a world of difference.