You are on a road trip, headed to the family cabin for the weekend or off to a friend’s wedding. You need to take a break, stretch your legs and grab a snack; but where can you stop for a quick bite that will not leave you with a stomachache, a sugar rush and excess calories that don’t fit so well into your day?

Your best option would be to prepare something ahead and bring with you. I understand that doesn’t always happen. There are, of course, a plethora of gas station/convenience stores conveniently located right off the highway, but how can you find real food anywhere quick and easy while traveling?

It is definitely a challenge, but when stuck in a bind, consider these options that will help to fill you up with the simplest foods possible.

    1. Fruit. At a larger convenience store you may often find a banana or an apple. Occasionally you may even come across a cup of grapes, melon or berries. This would be a great choice if available. These sweet and juicy finger foods – easy to eat while on the road and will provide you with water, fiber and are packed with nutrients.
    2. Vegetables. More rare, but every once in a while you might come across a package of carrots or celery with hummus or a small container of peanut butter. This is delicious and satisfying. Added protein and fat from peanut butter or hummus with the crunch of fresh vegetables – yum!
    3. Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are always a safe bet. You may find almonds, cashews, peanuts, or sunflower seeds. Check the ingredients to make sure they are simply prepared – roasted and lightly salted. Avoid those with additives, sugar and other flavors. And best to choose a package that is a single serving to prevent eating more than you planned.
    4. Popcorn. Simple, crunchy and satisfying. Choose lightly salted popcorn without added cheese-like substances or sugars.
    5. Yogurt. Yogurt will not likely be available at a small store, but at some locations you may find some yogurt choices. You certainly aren’t going to have the selection you would at your local grocer, but you can still try to find the best brand possible. Look for those without added artificial sweeteners. Choose full fat rather than fat free for a snack that will fill you up and not give you a short-lived sugar rush.
    6. Water. The average American gets about ¼ of their calories from beverages. The largest section of options at your roadside convenience store will be the beverage sections. They will be filled with either sugar or artificial sweeteners. Having a sweet beverage by itself will leave you craving more. Instead choose a bottle of plain water. Staying hydrated while on the road will help you to feel your best, and prevent the sugar rush from your other options.
    7. Single serve ice cream. Ice cream is, of course, going to give you a significant amount of sugar, but choosing a single serve size of real ice cream will also give you protein and fat which will help to fill you up. If you are looking for something sweet it is a relatively harmless way to satisfy your sweet tooth in a portion that will not allow you to overdo it. Many of your options will be packed with fillers, colorings and additives. Check the ingredient list and look for something that is as simple as possible. It is going to be harder to come by, but at some stores you may find this as an option that may work.
    8. Cheese. Mozzarella string cheese is a common option available. It is a good source of protein in addition to calcium and vitamin D. You might also find cheese curds or squares of cheddar cheese. Mozzarella is going to be a bit lower in saturated fat and perhaps slightly less processed, but these options will help to fill you up.
    9. Sausage or beef jerky. I often find sausage sticks packed with a cheese stick. It will be difficult to find an option without added chemicals, but occasionally there may be a local producer that could offer a simpler option. Some protein will be a better option than the candy that is most prevalent.  Avoid those with added sugars and flavors as they may give you added chemicals that are not a healthy choice.

Planning ahead with snacks made from home for the car is, of course, going to be your best choice. But with some thought you can pick foods and drinks that will work for you, give you energy and a clear head for the drive and not create overeating that can be so common on a road trip.

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