Have you ever left for a road trip and realized you have nothing good to eat? Don’t worry, it’s happened to me too.
Packing for a climbing trip is a like having a small anxiety attack, and it’s easy to forget that you’ll need to eat again soon.
Most of us think, “Oh, I’ll just stop at some restaurant on the side of the road,” but if you’ve ever driven out west, then you know that sometimes you can go FOREVER without seeing any signs of civilization.
It’s desperate times like these that leave you wandering around a gas station looking for your next meal. So instead of telling you to pack food ahead of time (which you should TOTALLY do), let’s talk about how to salvage your moment of desperation and choose the best crappy food available to you.
Healthy Gas Station Snacks: What to Eat When You’re Desperate
If you find yourself in a gas station looking for a “healthy” meal, then look for foods that are high in fiber, fat or protein. You don’t need to avoid carbohydrates altogether, but your body doesn’t need a bunch of carbs in order to sit still in a car for 8 hours.
So, unless you’re looking to gain weight in early preparation for winter, you might want to rethink the Goldfish binge. Even if they’re the rainbow kind…
Now if you can’t enjoy the snack that smiles back, what else can you possibly eat at a gas station? Great question.
1. Fresh fruit or vegetables
Stop rolling your eyes. You had to know this was coming.
If you EVER have an option to consume real food, do it. I don’t care if it’s not organic. Fresh fruits and vegetables are going to be more nutritious and filling than a processed protein bar.
Plus, most fruits and vegetables pair quite nicely with almond or peanut butter – making for an even healthier snack option on the road.
2. Trail mix, nuts or nut butters
If you can tolerate them, nuts make for fantastic road trip snacks because they’re rich in protein and fat – the things you want to eat when you’re not particularly active.
Trail mix is nice because you can get a variety of flavors and textures in one bag, but make sure you aren’t getting a mix with too much sugar. I know the fun part is picking through all the healthy stuff and eating the knock-off M&M’s, but you don’t need all that sugar if you’re going to be sedentary all day.
If you prefer plain nuts, then consider a low sodium option. Sodium is important during exercise, but if you’re just chillin in your car, then super salty foods are just going to make you thirsty. And that leads to 5 more stops than you had originally planned on making.
So, in order to help you make better time and gas mileage, go for the plain or lightly salted nuts.
If you stop at a fancy gas station with those little nut butter pouches (like Justin’s), stock up on those! You can eat them plain if you’re crazy, or eat them with fruits or vegetables if you’re normal. You could also just invest in a jar of any nut butter for the remainder of the trip.
3. Beef jerky
Though I find beef jerky exceptionally repulsive and strikingly similar to a scab, that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s one of the healthier food options found in a gas station. Since it’s basically just dried meat, you’ll be getting protein and fat with very few carbohydrates.
This will give you sustained energy to stay awake without the downsides of a sugar crash. As with any packaged food, be sure to read the food label and check for any surprise ingredients.
If you have an issue with gluten, this may not be the best bet for you since the seasoning may contain trace amounts of gluten.
If you do invest in some beef jerky, do everyone else a favor and invest in some chewing gum or mouthwash as well. You’re welcome, everyone else!
4. Energy bars
If you can’t find fresh food and you don’t eat nuts or meat, then your next best bet is probably the ever-popular energy bar. You’ll definitely want to check the labels on these since there are approximately 8 million different energy bars on the market at any given time.
If you’ve got options, choose the bars with limited amounts of carbohydrates (< 30 grams) and sugar (< 15 grams).
Bars that meet these requirements include:
- KIND Bars
- EPIC (because they’re basically soft beef jerky)
If there aren’t many options, just choose the best one you can find… because life is about making compromises.
In conclusion, the healthiest food at a gas station is the healthy food that you bring inside. JK… but seriously. Pack healthy snack options ahead of time if you can.
If you forget to pack food, then treat your driving days like Rest Days. You can find my Rest Day guidelines here.
Every gas station will have a different selection. Some may have plenty of options, others not so much. Use your best judgment and try to find the lesser of two evils. Whatever you decide to buy, just know that I’m watching…
Just kidding. I’m not a mother yet (and no, this is not a subtle life announcement).
Buy whatever you want, but hopefully these guidelines will help you make healthier food choices on the road.