If you’ve ever gone on a road trip, you probably know how difficult it can be to stick to your diet. Gas stations offering everything from donuts and cookies to chocolates and energy drinks. When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to justify a salty or sweet snack in-between destinations.
While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat, snacking on greasy or sugary snacks during hour-long drives can make you feel awful. By the time you reach your destination, you’re probably going to be exhausted—both mentally and physically.
That’s why it’s important to make healthy decisions about what you eat wherever you are. Your nutrition is important, and you want to stay as healthy as possible so you can get the most out of your trip. To help you do just that, we put together this list of the top seven unhealthiest snacks you should avoid on your next road trip.
Although they’re an iconic symbol of summertime cookouts and baseball games, hotdogs are notoriously unhealthy. They’re full of fat, sodium, and mechanically separated meat.
While it’s true you can purchase selections at the grocery store made of whole beef, chicken, or turkey, you’re hard-pressed to find healthy hotdog options at gas stations. They typically stock their shelves with cheap, greasy brands instead.
It’s hot outside, you’re sweating, and you want something cold to drink. That’s when your eyes lock onto the slushie machines.
Don’t do it! These drinks are pure sugar, packing up to 30 grams of it per small serving. And if you get a larger serving, that sugar only goes up.
While it may feel like a well-deserved indulgence now, that slushie will make your blood sugar spike and crash, ultimately making you more tired and lethargic.
3. Snack Cakes
You might think that the bready texture of a snack cake is perfect for keeping your sweet tooth in check and your stomach from rumbling, but you’d be wrong. These tasty treats are loaded with sugar, saturated fats, and trans fats, all of them highly unhealthy, and we haven’t even touched on the artificial ingredients and preservatives.
We all know that donuts aren’t good for us, but they’re a classic treat and go-to gas station snack. Indulging in a freshly made donut is okay if done sparingly, but when you purchase a donut from a gas station snack shop, you have no idea how long that donut has been sitting out.
Donuts go stale quickly, usually within a few hours after being baked. Why waste an earned splurge on a stale donut? You’re much better off waiting and getting your treat from a local bakery/store, where you can be sure the product you’re purchasing is fresh.
Pre-packaged donuts aren’t much better. These are high in artificial flavors, preservatives, and trans fats. They’re also highly processed.
Aside from being processed, drenched in sodium and fat, and containing very little real cheese, truck stop nachos are a dangerous choice. You have no way of knowing who made that sauce you’re pouring all over those nachos.
In fact, in 2017, a man from Sacramento, California died and 9 other patrons got food poisoning after eating gas station nacho cheese sauce. Be cautious around foods that are kept warm but not hot enough to kill bacteria. Better yet, just don’t eat these foods.
6. Pre-Packaged Sandwiches
Gas station cold-case, pre-made sandwiches can be better options when it comes to fat and calorie intake. However, there could be an issue of food safety when these selections are first made.
Further, there’s no way of knowing if the sandwiches have been stored properly, putting selections with cheese, meats, fish, or mayo in positions to make you sick.
7. Energy Drinks
After staring at two-lane roads for hours on end, you probably need a pick-me-up. You’re tired and have a few more hours of driving ahead of you. You may be tempted to grab an energy drink for the extra caffeine, but you would be better off choosing black coffee instead.
There have been numerous studies linking these energy drinks and their high concentrations of sugar, caffeine, and added ingredients such as taurine with adverse health side effects. If you aren’t a fan of coffee, you can get some much-needed energy from almonds and dark chocolate.
What Are Some Healthy Choices To Eat Instead?
The lure of the road is strong, and you want to get to your destination in a reasonable amount of time, but don’t fall victim to the convenience of gas station snack shops when you’re road-tripping with your family.
If you’re really struggling and just needs something to eat, try these options instead:
Almonds - These nuts are loaded with healthy, monounsaturated fats that have been shown to actually lower the risk of heart disease. Even better, almonds can come in a variety of flavors, com in convenient tins or individual serving packs, and their crunch makes a highly satisfying snack!
Greek Yogurt - Packed into the cold case next to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is full of protein and taste! Opt for unflavored varieties and top with fresh fruit (or mix in some honey) to cut the tang and the sugar!
Bananas - Many gas station snack shops now carry bananas as a quick pick-me-up. Grab one of these for a boost of potassium, protein, and dietary fiber!
Hummus - This staple snack food made of ground chickpeas (garbanzo beans) is swimming in protein, fiber, and nutrients such as magnesium and folate. Pair it up with some pretzels, celery, or carrots and you have a healthy, protein filled, crunchy, satisfying snack that has zero-to-low cholesterol and trans fat!
However, if you’re a planner, avoid greasy gas station temptations altogether by packing a small cooler full of healthy options such as fruits, spring water, and containers of home-made tuna, chicken, or egg salad.
And, when stopping for gas, walk past the hot and cold snack cases and grab some more ice to keep your healthier selections cold and ready to pull out and consume whenever the mood strikes you. Your body and wallet will thank you for it.
Keeping an eye on your nutrition is a powerful first step to improve your long-term health. It’s also important to understand how nutrition, sleep, stress, fitness, exercise, and even hormones and supplements can all work together to help you feel better, live longer, and stay healthier.
If you want to learn how to eat healthily, even while on the go, and live a more active lifestyle, our team of professionals are standing by. Schedule an appointment with us today and let us help show you how!