Summer is the season for family road trips and adventurous vacations, but these trips often lead to grabbing sweet treats at convenience stores to fuel up. Unfortunately, what’s convenient isn’t always very healthy.

Emily Niswanger, Clinical Dietitian at Regions Hospital, recently appeared on WCCO with some tips on how to choose healthier snacks on your next road trip.

Chips and candy

Chocolate candy bars can be a fun road trip treat, but they contain loads of sugar. “Candies fit into the unhealthy category because of their poor nutritional value,” Niswanger explained. Additionally, chips have a lot of processed grains in them, which means the nutritional value has been stripped out. This will leave you wanting more food sooner.

Deceivingly unhealthy

People often think popcorn is a healthy option because they often promote their few calories on the outside of the package. But just because a snack is low in calories doesn’t mean it is healthy. Some types of popcorn that are labeled as low-calorie are deceivingly unhealthy because of added flavoring. You’re getting a lot of extra ingredients that you wouldn’t normally get with plain popcorn, which can be a great snack.

Trail mixes also have a lot of processed grains that are unnecessary. They contain nuts and raisins that add sugar and salt to the snack.

The healthy choice

You can replace the unhealthy options with nuts and fruit that are packed with protein and low in fat. For instance, whole almonds that are unsalted are a great choice because they’re high in protein. Fresh fruit is always a good option, and more convenience stores are offering fruit and veggies. Nut and fruit bars can be another quick, healthy snack – but make sure to check the label first. Find a bar with only four or five ingredients and only minimal added sugar.

How do I pick the healthiest option?

Those healthy options are great, but what if your convenience store doesn’t have any of them? How do you find more? The best thing to do is look at the ingredient list. If the first ingredient is sugar, you know that the majority of that food is made from sugar. Try to avoid foods like this and find some with sugar that is either lower on the list or not listed at all.

It’s not always fun to reach for a banana when there are rows and rows of candy bars and chips, but even if you put down the chocolate and pick up a granola bar every once in a while, it can make a difference. You can always indulge every now and then, but do it in moderation.

To learn more about how to stay healthy while traveling, check out these articles: