Sometimes a grocery store may not be available due to traveling, busy lifestyle, or limited access. When a local convenience or corner store is an option, there are ways to navigate healthier choices. Your bariatric diet does not have to fail if you only have access to a convenience store.
In this article, we provide tips on how to navigate healthy options at a convenience store.
Access to Healthy Food
For some, access to healthy food has become a serious issue. Over 39 million Americans live further than a mile away from a grocery store or supermarket. These areas with limited access are considered food deserts.
Food insecurity is also an issue that is defined as food availability and the ability to access it. With food insecurity, financial resources are lacking resulting in the inability to purchase food.
Although supermarkets and grocery stores may not be available, there are still ways to purchase healthy food options on a budget at local convenience stores. If there are issues with food insecurity or food deserts, utilize your resources. Address the challenges that you are facing and look into resources that might be available to you.
Healthy Convenience Store Options
The whole point of a convenience store is to be quick and easy on-the-go. This typically includes highly processed options. However, there are some healthier choices that can be purchased.
Some healthier options that can be available at 711 stores, gas stations, dollar general, and other local convenience stores include:
Jerky is a popular dried meat snack option. Lean jerky will have lower fat content. This is not an every day option, but it is one of the better food choices at a convenience store.
For bariatric patients, lean jerky is high in protein. It also contains a number of vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, zinc, and phosphorus.
However, it is also high in sodium and various additives. Make sure you are prepared to limit your sodium intake for the rest of the day if you are consuming jerky.
Chickpeas and other legumes
Chickpeas offer a great source of potassium in a little under half a cup. Fresh garbanzo beans will definitely offer higher levels of nutrients, however if canned are available to you, they will still provide benefits to the body.
Beans are also a great, budget-friendly option. They provide excellent sources of fiber, folate, protein, and a number of other vitamins and minerals.
The main issue with canned items is the high sodium levels in them. It is recommended to drain and rinse canned chickpeas and beans in order to decrease the sodium content.
Peanut butter provides healthy fat that the body can utilize. It also offers a source of fiber, some vitamins and minerals. Try to stick with unsalted peanut butter options.
Bone broth is a source of collagen. Ageing, sunlight, extreme weight loss and environmental factors can cause damage to collagen fibers that are responsible for skin elasticity, tissue development and joint support.
For bariatric patients, broth can be utilized during the full liquid diet that unflavored protein powder can be added to for a higher source of protein. Look for low-sodium broth options.
Dairy products have an important place in a healthy diet. Cheese is lower in calories and high in protein to help maintain muscle mass. This is also a great source of calcium that counts towards your daily intake.
Look to purchase skim or 1% cheese for lower fat content.
Canned tuna or packaged tuna is a healthful food containing protein and various B-vitamins, iron, selenium, and phosphorus. Tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that offer great benefit to the body.
It is best to choose an option that is in water. Tuna in oil is also an option that is only slightly higher in calories.
Low-fat cottage cheese is perfect for a soft food diet after bariatric surgery. With the high levels of protein found in cottage cheese, it will help promote satiety and maintain muscle mass.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
More convenience stores have been adding fresh produce. This can include fruit in a cup, bananas, oranges, apples, prepared salads, quinoa salads, and/or carrots.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy source of carbohydrates that should be included daily in a healthy, balanced diet.
Hard boiled eggs
Typically, you can find hard boiled eggs premade and packaged at local convenience stores. Eggs are a great source of protein for everyone, including bariatric surgery patients.
There are various ways to prepare eggs in order for them to be consumed during soft food and regular food phases. Hard boiled eggs are a nutrient-dense choice, usually under $2.
Greek yogurt can have twice as much protein as regular yogurt. It contains minimal lactose that can limit side effects for those with lactose intolerance.
Plain Greek yogurt can even be used as a healthy substitute for sour cream.
If Greek yogurt is not available, but other yogurt options are, look at the nutrition panel and watch for sugars. Some yogurts can even contain probiotic cultures that strengthen the intestinal microbiome. When recommended to do so, purchasing probiotics for bariatric patients can be very beneficial for digestive health.
Eating nuts can positively impact heart health. They are a great inexpensive food option that contain healthy fat and other nutrients. Check out unsalted options in the convenience store.
However, one drawback is that they are high in calories and consumption should be limited to the portion size.
Hummus is made from garbanzo beans, filled with fiber and protein. It is often sold in packs with vegetables or pretzels for dipping.
You may also find in a large container by itself for dipping or as a spread.
Low fat milk or unsweetened almond milk
Milk and plant-based beverages can be found in convenience stores. However, they contain different nutrition profiles.
For those choosing dairy-based milk options, skim milk has minimal fat and would be a healthier option. It will have a considerable amount of calcium. You will also have to take a look at sugars listed on the label. Typically, the sugars in dairy-based milk will be from lactose. If you are lactose-intolerant, a plant-based option or Lactaid milk would be more suitable.
The fat found in plant-based beverages, like almond milk, contain unsaturated fat that is beneficial for the body. Look for a brand that fortifies their plant-based milk with calcium.
If you cannot consume skim milk, the most comparable product based on nutrition will be unsweetened soy milk. Although unsweetened almond milk is still an option, it is not as nutrient-dense as the other options listed above. Protein will be higher in dairy-based milk when compared to something like almond milk.
It is very common for bariatric patients to experience dehydration following surgery if adequate fluids are not consumed.
For everyone, fluids are important in regulating body temperature and maintaining bodily functions. Water can also help with boosting energy after bariatric surgery, weight loss, aid in digestions, and hydrate skin.
If you are looking to make your water a little more exciting, there are flavor enhancers available, like crystal light and Mio that can be added to water.
A sugar-free option is great for making hydration easier. Some flavor enhancers can even include additional B-vitamins for energy support.
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**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition.