I never used to concern myself with healthy living. That was a topic for folks who struggled with their weight and went on diets—not me. I was slim and ath- letic throughout high school, and, like many teenagers,
I assumed that the way things were at the time was the way
they are. It never occurred to me that I might change.
But I arrived at college with poor diet habits, and I immersed
myself in the ever-present pizza, cookies and dining hall
choices. I kept my fridge stocked with an endless supply of
sugary sodas and energy drinks to fuel my late-night study
sessions, and before long, I noticed that something wasn’t right.
Simply put: I had become fat.
Combating the Myth
I lost the weight eventually— 80 pounds. I learned to develop
a healthy relationship with food, and I spent a few months
tracking everything I ate in order to build better habits. I lost
most of those 80 pounds within that first year, and the rest
disappeared over the course of the next few years.
Along the way, however, I discovered a passion for fitness and
health. These days, I’m an active endurance athlete, meaning I
like to run, cycle and swim. I also pride myself on my ability to
prepare quick, simple and healthful meals. But the entire experience brought me into the discussion about what it means to
live a healthy life, and I began to notice something: “Eating out”
is not looked upon kindly. In fact, it’s frequently seen as part of
the problem—especially with regard to weight gain.
We hear this all the time. Folks complain that they gained
20 pounds because they’ve joined coworkers at restaurants
for lunch, or they blame fast food for their failure to manage
their weight. Time and time again, it’s the same basic
message: Eating out will negatively affect your health.
But there’s just one problem: It’s not true.
A person can shop at the most upscale grocery stores
and still be unhealthy—if they buy the wrong things.
Restaurants, convenience stores and even fast-food estab-
lishments? They’re no different.
I learned this lesson through experience. Last year, I
accepted a job that requires four to five days a week of travel.
I’m constantly on-the-go—flying out on Monday and returning either Thursday or Friday. By all accounts, I should’ve
gained weight and become less healthy. But that never happened. I feel fantastic, and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.
The truth is that “eating out” is a rational choice in our
modern way of life. We work long hours, have busy schedules, and some of us just don’t want to prepare our own food.
It’s perfectly fine to stop at c-stores and restaurants during
our lunch breaks, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so.
That’s why I decided to do combat this myth by doing
something drastic: For 30 days, I ate exclusively at gas
stations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks—everything. I
traveled across nine states during that time, and I visited
more than 200 stores. I wanted a challenge, and let’s face
it: There’s a perception that c-stores are particularly
“Time and again, it’s the same
message: Eating out will negatively
affect your health. But there’s just
one problem: It’s not true.”
For 30 days, Frank Beard ate only at
convenience stores to debunk the
myth that eating out often will make
you fat and unhealthy. He chronicled
his journey on Instagram.