Convenience store dieting? Is that the newest fad diet? No, it is simply a fact of life. If you travel or work away from home, it is a given fact that you will need to hit a convenience store once in a while to fuel your body. For a dieter this is often a scary proposition. Convenience stores are traditionally not diet friendly. That has slowly begun to change, but like any change, it is a slow process. There are still many dangers lurking on the shelves of convenience stores.
When traveling, the best option for meals is to bring them along with you. A cooler with water and meal fixings is a great option. This allows you to eat whenever and wherever you need to. But, due to room in the car, last minute trips, or rushing to get to work, sometimes packing ahead of time is not an option. The next best option is a grocery store. Even the smaller grocery stores often have fresh produce options and healthy crackers and snacks available. And, of course, the restaurant with healthy meal choices is a third option. Of course, this is assuming you have time to sit down and enjoy a meal, or that there is a restaurant on the route you are traveling.
When all of these options are not available the convenience store becomes a necessary evil. When stopping for gas it is often just as easy to grab a meal there at the same time. This means taking the time to look over the store before buying on impulse. Many convenience stores are now carrying bananas and other fruit. They often have meat and cheese cups. Many are also offering wraps (although be careful when choosing a wrap with lots of fat- and calorie-filled fillings.) Water is available in a variety of sizes and many stores now offer the no calorie individual drink powders that can be added to the water bottle.
It is important to avoid the snack cake and cookie aisle. It is also important to walk past the chip aisle. Slim jims and many of the processed meat snacks are not great choices either. They offer little nutritional value and lots of sodium and fat. Sodas and most processed juices offer little or no nutritional value and are loaded with sugars. The warmers are usually stuffed with food that smells and looks good, but can be a diet killer. Pizza, burgers, fries, fried onion rings, and other selections can be a real problem for the dieter.
If the store has a deli you can often order a sandwich made the way you want. You can get a healthy turkey breast sandwich with all the veggies and mustard or no dressing (or any healthy combination you choose.) For those without a deli, there are other healthy choices hidden amongst the racks. Many stores are beginning to carry protein bars and fiber snack bars. A container of skim milk and a protein bar can be a good meal on the run. A bottle of water and a small bag of pretzels, a diet iced tea and a packet of cashews, or a coffee and a low fat muffin are all good choices from the convenience store.
A stop at a convenience store does not have to be a dieter breaker. A little aisle-scanning and label reading may yield some diet-friendly choices. When all else fails, go for the water to subdue the hunger until a more suitable choice can be found. Don’t avoid convenience stores like the plague just because you are dieting, but do make wise choices and keep your diet on track so you continue to build muscle or lose fat.