Best of the Worst {Making Smarter Choices at the Gas Station}

Summer is upon us, and with that means road trips and the inevitable fuel up, for both cars and bodies. The best bet is to plan ahead and bring healthy snacks with you, but even with the best intentions, we can can sometimes find ourselves wandering the gas station aisles, staring down a hot dog that may have been rolling around on that grill before we even put the keys in the ignition and a slushy the color of your grandma’s jello mold.

The good news is, a lot of gas stations and convenient stores are stocking more healthy options.  From hard boiled eggs to grab-n-go fruit & cheese, there are definitely a lot more options than we used to have.  Regardless of where you stop, here’s some tips to minimize the damage:

Crunchy Corner:

One of the most tempting options is a quick bagged snack.  Chips, cheese curls, pretzels are all super easy to snack on while driving.  They offer literally no nutrition and are packed with salt, too.  The tiny bag of Lay’s regular chips rocks 225 calories and 15 grams of fat, while a bag of Baked Lays only runs 165 calories and 2 grams of fat.  Plus, somehow they have a little bit of fiber, which will help you stay full.  Let’s be real, they don’t taste like a regular chip, but sometimes you can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Sacrifice some flavor for knowing you’re doing a good thing.

Doritos will run you 220 calories and 12 grams of fat, while a healthier option of Sun Chips has a similar flavor and unfortunately the same calorie count, but only about 4 grams of fat. I’d say the chip option is never one of your best, but if crunch is what you crave, some options are obviously better than others.

WINNERS: Sun Chips, Baked Chips

LOSERS:Potato Chips, Cheese Puffs, Corn Chips

Protein Punch:

Most anywhere you stop will have a hot dog or sausage roller with a quick meal ready to rock for you, and for pretty cheap.  I’m not going to act like sometimes a hot dog isn’t super delicious, but I’d save this splurge for a delicious crispy one off the grill, not this mysterious on on the roller without an ingredient list in sight.

Really, most of the protein options at gas stations are packed with sodium and made from “cuts” of meat that you would never eat in its whole, unprocessed state.  Yikes.  Same goes for Slim Jims and the super processed jerky treats.  If it is tubular, keep walking.

If you’re at a spot that has a made to order deli, go for a sandwich.  If not, check the cooler for snack packs of hard cooked eggs….if you’re riding alone.  Just kidding, who doesn’t like their car smelling like eggs?

WINNERS: Hard cooked eggs, deli meat

LOSERS: Hot dogs, processed jerky, anything scary 

Sweet Snacks

Lookout, this is my personal forte.  Try and get me out of gas station without a bag of Haribo gummi bears in my hand, I dare ya.  I think this is an easy enough category though, because for the most part, we understand that the candy bar in our mitts is not offering anything healthy for us.  A standard Snickers bar has 273 calories and 14 grams of fat.  That’s like a whole meal’s worth and its down the hatch in less than a minute.  I also wouldn’t recommend any sort of pie, cookie or anything resembling the idea of a baked good.  Save it for one that is actually good, not this ancient honey bun packed with preservatives.

If your sweet tooth simply won’t be denied, look for some dark chocolate or even a flavored pack of gum. I’ll pat myself on the back here, but even the candy like gummi snacks or Twizzlers are better than a candy bar, if only because they don’t have the loads of fat that candy bars do. If you do hit up candy, don’t plop back in the driver’s seat with the whole bag next to you.  Take a handful and put the rest in the back of the car.

WINNERS: Dark Chocolate, Twizzlers

LOSERS: Candy Bars, Snack cakes

Stay safe out there on the road, and stay smart with your snack choices!





What do you think?