The struggle to find something, anything, healthy to eat at the airport is all too real. Whether you had to leave for your flight so early that there was no way you could stomach anything besides coffee or you disembarked from the first leg of your journey starving with a three-hour layover, there’s nothing like airport food to make eating healthy feel like an insurmountable challenge. Yet, while traveling it’s almost more important than normal to stay hydrated and eat well. It helps you feel better physically while en route and when you arrive at your destination.
To crack the code of eating healthy at the airport we spoke to flight attendants from Hawaiian Airlines, Travel Guidebook author James Kaise, Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center, Dr. Caroline Apovian, and Certified Health & Nutrition Coach Caryn O’Sullivan. Here are their tips and go-tos.
Before You Go To The Airport
With a little planning you can sidestep the challenge of eating healthy while traveling. Apovian and the Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants recommend bringing food along whenever possible. Apovian suggested fresh fruit and nuts and a low sugar protein bar with plenty of fiber. If you want to hack your breakfast, the frequent traveler flight attendants said to pack a ziploc bag with dried oatmeal, nuts, and berries that you can add hot water to for a ready-made breakfast. And don’t forget a piece of dark chocolate to compliment a cup of coffee during mid-flight.
At The Airport
Sometimes you’re just going to have to buy something at the airport. If you know you’ll be in that situation try to find out what your dining options are at the airport ahead of time and check out the nutritional information. Avoid anything with lots of added sugars or a low calorie snack that doesn’t have much protein. Kaiser, while not a vegetarian, tends to avoid meat at airports as it forces him to find meals with more vegetables.
Look for things that contain healthy fats and proteins. You want to choose foods that won’t leave you hungry.Think Greek yogurt, string cheese, hummus cups, salads with hard boiled eggs, or grilled chicken. At some of the more popular fast food restaurants opt for items like an egg white veggie wrap, spinach and feta wraps, and turkey sandwiches. And don’t forget to stay hydrated. O’Sullivan recommends consuming fresh juices and smoothies as they will help keep you hydrated and alert on the go. The fruit can also help you ward of jet lag. Just be cautious and try to choose vegetable and fruit smoothie combinations, as all-fruit smoothies contain a lot of sugar.