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Convenience Store Shopping – is it a Good Option?

My daughter and I recently took a trip and I was amazed at how many people I saw eating snacks from convenience stores such as gas stations or pharmacies. It’s not that I didn’t know that people buy food from these places, or that I don’t also occasionally do the same thing. I was just shocked by how unhealthy all of the choices were. Do you frequent convenience stores? Here are a few tips for making healthy choices, even when they are hard to find.

Convenience doesn’t necessarily mean cheap

Often convenient stores jack up their prices because they know that someone stopping on a road trip has minimal options to choose from. They are also smaller and have limited stock. So even though you may feel like stopping quick into this store is easier on the budget, you are best off hitting up a large grocery store that does a lot of sales, and can lower their prices because they have so much inventory.

Convenient means shelf stable

If you remember what kinds of things need to be in a product to make them shelf stable, you know that means they aren’t necessarily loaded with important nutrients. Sodium is at the top of the list of ingredients for shelf stable foods. Salt is used as a preservative, which means the store can keep it on their shelves for a long time, giving them plenty of opportunity to sell the product. Chips, soda, soup, beef jerky, all of these products are loaded with sodium to keep from expiring. It’s important to watch our sodium intake as high levels can increase risk of high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease is already likely when you are a person with type 2 diabetes.

There isn’t much produce

Vegetables and fruits spoil quickly and are more expensive for convenience stores to purchase. So most likely, you won’t find any at your local gas station. If you do, it may be slim pickings. And choosing a fruit or vegetable for a snack is always a good option as it provides fiber to keep us full longer, as well as decrease the rate at which sugar flows into our blood stream. If you do opt for a piece of fruit, try to have some protein with it to further slow the release of sugar into the blood stream, hopefully avoiding a high reading.

So what can I eat at a convenience store?

If you are in a pinch, on a road trip with no other options, there are a few products to look for that would be a better option than potato chips!

Cheese sticks

Check the refrigerated section for single wrapped cheese sticks. They make a great high protein, no carbohydrate option that will help keep you satisfied until your next meal.


Whether you choose a nut mix (try to choose unflavored whenever possible) or a nut butter, nuts also provide a low carbohydrate, high protein option to help satisfy your hunger.

Skinny Pop Popcorn ®

The original flavor provides 15 grams of carbohydrate and 150 calories for 3¾ cups of popcorn! Add to that the three grams of fiber and you will have a happy belly and a lower risk of a high blood glucose level!

Be sure to speak with your physician, registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator if you have any specific diet or snacking questions.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.