By Kaitlyn Summers – Contributing Writer
Whether you are a college student or busy mom, convenience items are a must. If you are like me, the first place that comes to mind is a gas station or fast food chain. But when you are trying to stick to eating healthy, options can be limited.
Luckily, convenience stores are increasing their variety of healthy options but we as consumers need to be on the hunt for these offerings. I’ve made the rounds to a few 7-Eleven’s and gas stations and have come up with some tips for the next time you stop in.
Head straight to the refrigerator section
In this area you can find yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, hummus, and hard boiled eggs. All healthy options! Depending on the store, be on the look out for apples, oranges, and carrots in this section. Also look for them close to the checkout.
Avoid high-calorie, sugar-sweetened beverages
In the drink coolers you can find everything from milk to beer and coconut water to Red Bull.
Choose low-fat milk. It's packed with calcium, vitamin D, and protein. Paired with a fruit or veggie, it makes for a great snack.
Juices come in every flavor imaginable now. Words to look for on the label include “100% Fruit Juice.” However, calories add up quickly when drinking juice. Even the iced coffee drinks and teas are loaded with sugar and calories. Reading the label is really important here. I still like some flavor but stick to water since I don’t drink enough throughout the day. Aquafina and Schweppes both make a variety of flavored water options.
Look for single size portions
Try to stay away from large size portions. Remember, you are here to grab a snack so look for snack-size portion.
Most places offer a variety of nuts and mixed nuts and are packaged to fit right in one’s hand. Dried and dehydrated fruit and veggies are very popular right now. Bars are also a good option but there are so many! Some of my favorites are Quest, That's It, Think Thin and KIND Pressed.
Breakfast all day
Who said you can’t have breakfast in the afternoon?? During my field trip, I also spotted oatmeal and cereal cups! How perfect is that? Grab some milk and you are ready to go. Good brands to choose from include Kashi Go Lean Crunch, Special K, Honey Nut Cheerios, Quaker Oats Oatmeal, and Think Thin Oatmeal.
Kaitlyn Summers is a registered dietitian in Western New York. Find more food for nutrition thought from her and her RD friends on their blog at spicegirlsnutrition.com.