Stay in the Zone while on the Road

By Mary Perry, Zone Labs’ Director of Clinical Trials

It’s time for summer vacations, road trips, and the long days of sunshine. During times like these, sometimes you just want to pick up and go without having a plan –  and that includes food. After a day at the beach you might be parched, in the mood for a small bite, or maybe you’ve run out of everything you packed and now you have to wing it on your trip home. Grab-and-go may be your only option.

Read on for tips on navigating convenience stores so you don’t have to throw in the towel on your good eating habits.

1. Learn to Navigate the Convenience Store

It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to walk the aisles of a convenience store. I rarely go in to them, but when I do, I know what I need, grab it  and I walk out. I was pleasantly surprised on a recent trip to see how many more options they have these days that are Zone-friendly. Navigating this convenience store was very similar to how you’d navigate a grocery store when shopping for healthy options. Stick to the perimeter and don’t venture down the aisles if you don’t have to. You’ll still have to bypass a few things along the way, like the cold case that houses all the ice cream bars and sundaes, but keep looking and you’ll find options.

2. Find the ‘Convenient’ Zone Formula

It’s not always easy to tell if something is Zone-friendly, so it might require you taking a deeper look at the label. Typically for every 1 gram of fat, balance it with 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrate. If that seems too hard, then just pick something that is a combination of fat, protein and carbohydrate (e.g., like a piece of fruit and cheese).

3. Know Your Protein, Fat and Carb Options

The following are options I found at the convenience store I went to. Remember, these are suggestions for when you’re in a pinch. Most of the choices you’ll find below will probably be processed and high in sodium so make sure you drink a lot of water!

A good rule of thumb is if the grams of protein are closer to 7 grams per serving consider it a snack and if a serving or the whole container brings you closer to 21 grams of protein consider it a meal.   

Proteins

  • Shakes: The key here is to look for the balance of protein to carb and to avoid ones high in added sugar.
  • Milk: Choose 2% and you get the complete Zone balance between the fat, protein and carbohydrate. 
  • Greek Yogurt: Some containers can pack up to 20 grams of protein per serving.
  • Cheese Sticks: These are a great choice on the go and having them pre-portioned makes them the perfect complement to a piece of fruit.
  • Deli Turkey: Jerky is high in sodium so you want to eat in moderation and avoid ones with added sugar (i.e. teriyaki).
  • Beef Jerky: These can be found in the inside aisles.

Fats

  • Guacamole on the Go: Look for the guacamole minis (100 calories per serving, 3 grams of fat) that would be considered one serving of fat.
  • Nuts: I was surprised by all the nut options. There were so many flavors; tequila lime, sweet chili pistachios, wasabi and blueberry almonds, and so many more. When it comes to nuts, keep it simple. Look for one or two ingredients in the Nutrition Facts or find shelled peanuts instead. The ones that are flavored generally have ingredients you should keep to a minimum, like sugar and corn syrup. So avoid these if possible. Also, watch the portion sizes. Even a small bag can be up to 3 servings, and that is easy to consume in one sitting, or on a long drive!
  • Seeds: Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are a moderately good choice and they do contain some protein. Use in moderation, as they are high in omega-6 fats (more pro-inflammatory). Plus, they can easily rack up the calorie count of your meal.

Carbohydrates

  • Fresh Fruit Cups: These can be found in the refrigerated section.
  • Fresh Fruit: These are sometimes near the counter, but be careful of bananas because they are high in sugar.

Combo

  • Wraps/Sandwiches: These are a last-case scenario, but if you go with something like this, find a sandwich with protein (tuna, chicken) and take the protein off of one half, add it to the other, and eliminate one slice of bread to minimize the amount of carbs.
    OR: Couple deli turkey with guacamole and one slice of whole grain bread/rye bread.

 

These are just some tips for staying in the Zone so that your diet doesn’t have to set sail when you’re eating on the fly. Just check labels, and your on-the-road meals can be as balanced as possible.

Comments

  1. Richard Byrom

    A handy zone snack to pre-package in a zip sandwich bag is a 1oz string cheese, a few nuts, and a 5oz can of V-8 juice.

    Reply
  2. Dr.Bob

    Lunch just off the interstate? Wendy’s chili and a side salad are pretty close to Zone.

    Reply

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