It's everyone's (second) favorite time of the year. The leaves are starting to change, kids are back in school and the 16 ounce pumpkin spice flavored beverages slowly find their way to the hips. While fall feels like the most relaxing and cozy season, it's a busy time for high school and college students as well as parents. During such times it can be hard to maintain a healthy lifestyles, especially while always traveling from work to an event and eating late before bed.

During an internship at another newspaper a few years ago, I decided to search for the healthiest convenience store in the Albany County area. I paired up with a nutrition major from one of the local colleges and we pointed out the most unhealthy and healthy options in the popular convenience stores. I point this out because I've seen gas stations turn from providing sodas and gas into places that sell full pizzas, frozen meals, eggs and much more than I ever imagined. That's how the name gas station transformed into a convenience store. The candy bars are conveniently located at the cash out counter and at eye level for children to see and beg for.


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In addition to finding a quick bite to eat at convenience stores, people are most tempted by sugary, filling drinks that look and sound tasty, but don't do any good for your body. Yes, they're good once in awhile, but depending on the size ordered. My advice, look at the nutrition information online before you order. It's always tempting to snag one while out on a shopping trip or in between commutes, but it will only leave you crashing from a sugar rush.

For example, a grande, 16 ounce pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks comes with 50 grams of sugar, 14 grams of fat and 52 grams of carbohydrates. According to the American Heart Association, the average male can have 37 grams of sugar while the average woman can have 25 grams. I hope you didn't want dessert or a sports drink later on that day, because you'd be well over the allotted amount. And that's with a grande size. Most people go big or go home and order a venti. Like I said, once a season it's a nice treat, but still, it's expensive.

I didn't come to vent about the pumpkin craze. I decided to reflect on how to snack while out and about. When you aren't prepared for a day away from home, you can't succumb to the day old doughnut or a Pop Tart, especially in the morning. To skip to the end of the healthy convenience store search, Stewart's happened to be the best. It sells some fruit, yogurt, cheese sticks and you can pair it with unsalted nuts. Yes you have to look hard to find these items, but a majority reside in the cooler with the eggs and cheese. Produce is on the floor of the cooler. Look real hard past the bushes of chips and rotating breakfast sandwich heater, and you'll find something worth satisfying.

For beverages, choose coffee, tea or water, assuming this is on your way into work or during a lunch break. Soda is an obvious red flag, unless you want a sugar crash or a head start on cardiac disease. V8 juice is something the nutrition student suggested during our quest because of the vitamins and nutrients it contains. Most renovated convenience stores carry pre made smoothies now, too. However, check the sugar and ingredients because some brands are better than others.

Latte or not, fall is only the start of bulking season and not in the bodybuilding way. Before you know it, you're indulging in Halloween candy, even if you didn't intend to. Then it's the Thanksgiving dessert table, followed by a month of Christmas cookies and work parties. Summer may have had its sugary cocktails and cookouts, but the colder it gets, the less motivated you will be to get outside and work it off. Think smart and get ahead of the comfy, tasty fall season before you're back to the infamous new year's resolution list.

— Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.