Wawa’s Sneakiest Calorie Bombs, According to a Dietician
My foodie friends and I like to play a game whenever we go to a convenience store. It’s called: “How Many Calories Are in This?” It’s exactly what it sounds like: We’ll stand there guessing the calorie counts of some of the most popular snack foods, and often find ourselves shocked at how many calories some items contain. (And yes, I’m certain we sound really annoying to the person standing there in line with an 800 calorie snack that we just completely ruined for them. Sorry about that.)
Wawa is one of our favorite places to play this game; there are just so many snacks to choose from. So I decided to hit up a Wawa and play the game myself, all for your benefit, dear reader. My hope is to point you in the direction of grab-and-go snacks that might be better alternatives when you’re craving something salty or sweet.
Keep in mind, though, that I’m a big proponent of the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time, behave. The other 20 percent, look, I don’t even want to know. In my opinion, you should be allowed to enjoy what you eat, whether your indulgence is a few spoonfuls of peanut butter or a basket of crab fries. Diet is about balance, after all.
But my goal with this post is to save you from sneaky calories hiding in places you wouldn’t expect, and to show you that small tweaks to your snacking regimen can add up to big savings in the calorie department. So before you hit the shiny new Center City Wawa store on your lunch break, read on to find out whether your go-to snacks are worth it — or not.
Snack Attack: Mmmm, dried pineapple chunks are my jam.
I am sure they are, but did you know the entire container at Wawa holds six servings? Each serving has 140 calories, which gives you a total of 840 calories if you eat the entire package (which you know you do). In runner talk, that is nearly the equivalent of running the Broad Street Run. How’s that for perspective?
Dried fruit is great because of its fiber content, but it has more calories than fresh fruit and the serving sizes are pretty small. Dried fruit of any kind can be easy to overeat. So, what could you have instead? Chobani 2% fat Greek yogurt with pineapple. You’re getting healthy doses of protein and calcium, with fewer calories — 140 for the entire container — and a pineapple taste. Calorie savings: 700.
Snack Attack: Look, Ma! I got Chex Mix because it’s healthier than potato chips!
Oh really? A snack bag of Chex Mix Cheddar has 3.5 servings and contains 120 calories per serving. If you think about it in terms of doing chores, that’s like vacuuming for two hours and 25 minutes. Who has time for that?
Chex Mix is technically a better snack option than chips, but that’s not saying much: There isn’t anything too nutritious about it. An alternate suggestion? Skinny Pop Popcorn. For one snack bag of Skinny Pop Popcorn (you’ll find it right in the same section as the Chex Mix), it is 150 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Bonus: Popcorn is a whole grain. Calorie savings: 270.
Snack Attack: Wawa has these super convenient Protein Power Packs, and lots of protein is healthy, right?
Errr, sorry. Most Americans already consume enough protein in their daily diet. So when you eat this Power Pack, containing 630 calories from a hodgepodge of high-protein snacks — peanut butter, hardboiled egg, almonds — you’re not only getting 23 grams of protein but also 39 grams of fat. For the walkers among us, you’ll need to lace up your sneakers for three hours and 56 minutes to burn that off.
Sitting right next to the Power Packs is a much better choice: the turkey, apple and cranberry wrap. The wrap comes in at 420 calories, 23 grams of protein and 17 grams of fat. Remember that the body can only utilize a certain amount of protein at one time, so eating a lot of protein throughout the day or at one sitting is not necessarily most beneficial. Twenty three grams is fine; but don’t think you have to go overboard. Calorie savings: 210.
Snack Attack: I’m reeeeeally craving candy, so I’ll be good and have a Reese’s Halloween Pumpkin because it’s fun size and, let’s be serious, super cute.
You know what’s not fun? Realizing that ONE Reese’s pumpkin contains 170 calories. Also not fun: when you’re sitting on your couch mindlessly eating fun size candy only to realize, 10 minutes in, that there are 14 candy wrappers strewn around you. You might as well have eaten three King Size candy bars. (I speak from personal experience here.)
So what’s a good sweet-tooth alternative? Depends. If the candy is your 20 of the 80/20 rule, enjoy it. But if you’d rather have something a bit more filling for the same calorie load, grab a Special K Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar. It comes in at 170 calories, as well, but with 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Another suggestion for my chocolate-and-PB lovers? Freeze your candy. When you freeze a Reese’s or similar sweet, it takes longer to eat, which allows you to savor the treat to keep you from going overboard … like I have. Calorie savings: none.
Snack Attack: Soft pretzels are low fat. They’re the perfect snack when I’m hungry.
Hello, you must be from Philly. Soft pretzels are tasty; however, at Wawa, they’re double packaged, so if you eat the whole thing you’re looking at 700 calories.
A healthier alternative? Grab a Wawa chicken salad and green leaf lettuce on multigrain sandwich thin for just 200 calories. Or, if more of a snacky item is what you are looking for, opt for mixed nuts – still salty, but full of fiber, healthy fats and protein. I like the Planters Nut-rition pack, with 250 calories, 10 grams protein and a good source of fiber. Calories savings: 450 to 500.
Jenna Stranzl is a registered dietitian in Philadelphia and consulting sports nutritionist for athletes of all types including the PGA Tour golfers, NY Islanders NHL organization, Vincera Institute, and Velocity Sports Performance Cherry Hill. To find out more about Jenna’s services and blog posts, visit jennastranzl.com.
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