Gas stations are not places often associated with healthy eating, but Frank Beard wanted to change that perception and challenged himself to find wholesome food options for every meal while eating exclusively at gas stations for 30 days.
“The idea came from a larger story of mine,” Beard, 31, tells PEOPLE. “About five years ago I lost 80 lbs. and that really tuned me into the whole discussion of how we blame eating out for a lot of the problem with weight gain.”
“Last year I was traveling four to five times a week and had to eat out all the time at gas stations and fast food [restaurants],” he continues. “According to that rhetoric, I should have gained a lot of weight, but I felt great. That’s when I decided I wanted to show people that you can make healthy choices on the go.”
Beard says that even though he was eating gas station convenience store food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, he didn’t have to alter his usually healthy diet.
“I pretty much just continued to eat the same things that I normally eat,” he says. “For breakfast, I like to have hard boiled eggs, some type of fruit or a low-sugar snack bar. For lunch I’d look for a salad, packs of mixed nuts and sparkling water. As far as dinner, some stores offered made-to-order items, but if I didn’t find that I’d stick to a healthy wrap, some berries and more mixed nuts.”
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Beard — who became an avid runner and cyclist after his previous weight loss journey — didn’t intend to lose weight during his experiment, but ended up dropping from 163 lbs. to 157 lbs. While the weight loss was an unexpected and pleasant side effect, Beard says the best part of his 30-day challenge was getting to explore so many different gas station convenience stores.
“Over the 30 days I was able to cover nine states and over 200 convenience stores,” says Beard, who now works as an analyst for convenience store and retail trends at GasBuddy. “I found healthy food everywhere!”