Whether you find yourself constantly traveling for work, or just take a single vacation each year, being hungry at the airport can sabotage your healthy eating habits and cause you to scramble for the nearest cinnamon roll stand.
Don’t let your diet fall by the wayside when traveling. With proper planning, you can avoid derailing your diet with airport food. Here are some tips to help you make healthy choices at the airport food court.
- Skip the extras. Watch out for foods that pack extra calories and fat. If you’re getting a sandwich, you definitely want to avoid getting anything with cheese or sausage. Generally speaking, steer clear of any “salady sounding” items such as tuna salad or chicken salad because they’re usually loaded with mayonnaise or other specific dressings. Also, try to pass on junk-food sides such as chips and cookies, which can be full of unnecessary calories, fat, and sugar.
- Load up on produce. Fruits and veggies are low in calories, so they won’t break your calorie bank, and they’re high in fiber, so they’ll hold you over while you fly. They’ll also give you a healthy boost of protective nutrients. Be sure to eat the brightly colored ones – dark green and orange, which are often lacking in our diets.
- Avoid salt. It’s no secret that eating a lot of salt is bad for you, but it may be worse for frequent fliers (higher sodium foods may contribute to high blood pressure and fluid retention). What’s worse is that we usually have no clue how much sodium is in the foods that we order. So if you choose to sit down at an airport restaurant, request no added salt from the chef.
- Slow down. We’re usually in a mad rush at the airport, running between bag-check, terminals, and concourses. We certainly don’t want you to miss your flight, but slow down when it comes to eating. Take time to enjoy your meal and chew it well. Inhaling even the most nutritious meal will likely make you feel uncomfortable, bloated and unsatisfied.
- Do your homework. Once you know which terminal you’re flying out of, do some research – all eateries and their locations within the airport are listed online. Some airports even have the restaurants’ menus on their websites. Chains such as Au Bon Pain® and McDonalds® even have the nutritional information for their options on their websites.
- Avoid alcohol. Aside from being a lot of empty calories, alcohol can dehydrate you, leaving you with a major headache.
- Eat often. Eating at regular intervals is important to maintain blood sugar levels and keep your energy high while you travel. You should not go longer than four hours between meals. If the flight is longer, grab two small sandwiches.
- Eat balanced meals. Traveling can be unpredictable, but try to eat balanced proportions. One of the goals of eating when traveling is a meal with moderate amounts of lean protein and carbohydrates with fiber. These meals help digest foods in a slow and steady way to release that needed energy when you arrive at your destination.
- Pack some snacks. Don’t be afraid to bring stuff from home. It saves money, time and you know exactly what you are eating. You can also pack healthy snacks from airport shops (a cup of hummus, a hard boiled egg or a piece of fruit) to bring with you on the plane.