Traveling has its perks. You get to visit cool places and have unique experiences.
But if you’re health-conscious, you may be hard-pressed to find quality, nutritious food in the airport. Some of the largest airports have a wide variety of restaurants and snack shops to choose from which makes it easier to find a nutritious meal. But if you’re stranded in a small airport in the middle of nowhere, then you’ll need a few tips on how to find the right meal for you.
What to Avoid
It’s easy to spot the restaurants to avoid. You can smell the fried food from six terminals away. And when you approach the menu, all you see is french fries, cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, fried corn, fried pickles, corn dogs or some other fried selection. Your stomach is probably churning simply by reading that list. Steer clear of places like this.
And that massive candy aisle that takes up the center lane of the entire airport? Forget that too.
Foods to Look For
You’ll want to stick with meals that offer a healthy portion of greens or other vegetables to balance out any carb or protein you choose to eat. And you’ll need to reduce the amount of hidden sugar on your plate as well.
Listed here are the most common healthy foods you’ll find in the airport.
Salads – Add nuts, beans or other vegetable toppings. Avoid dried fruits, which are often made with added sugar, and sweet dressings. Remember you can ask to have certain things removed or added. Or remove them yourself.
Fruit or Vegetable Cups – These are readily available at places like Chik-Fil-A, Starbucks or McDonald’s, which you’re more likely to find than any other restaurants at the airport. You can also find these cups in the snack shops. It’s not a whole meal, but if you piece enough snack-like items together, you could have a decent yet nutritious lunch.
Whole Grain Oats – If you’re around for breakfast, then you’ll want to stick with whole grains rather than pancakes, waffles, tater tots or the like. Starbucks offers whole grain oatmeal with a nut and fruit mix to add. Order it with a banana for added sugar instead of the brown sugar they offer. Throw in a green tea and you’ll be set.
Sandwiches – Sandwiches aren’t the healthiest, but they’re a better option than most other meals at the airport. Stick with cold sandwiches loaded with veggies minus the sugary or fatty dressings. Keep it simple.
Gourmet Restaurants – You’re more likely to find a healthy and nutritious meal at a gourmet restaurant than anywhere else. But you’ll still have to peruse the menu to find a good choice. Avoid anything fried or overly cheesy. Beware of the vegetables or other dishes soaked in sauces that add nothing but calories, fat and sugar. And just because they offer steak doesn’t mean you should skip a salad. Go for steamed or lightly sauteed vegetables and small portions of protein. The sides menu is an excellent place to start.
Finally, one of the best ways to ensure good nutrition while at the airport is to plan ahead. Either eat a large, healthy meal beforehand or bring your own snacks. Sure, your own snacks don’t quite pass as a fresh, hot meal. But it’s better than munching on cookies, pretzels and soda. You can bring things like fresh or home-dried fruit, granola bars, chopped vegetables or nuts. Snacks like these are easy to pack with enough forethought. You’ll have to purchase healthy beverages on site, but you’ve got decent options in that department (like water).
Airports aren’t the easiest place to be healthy. But if you plan ahead and give yourself time to find the right restaurant and right meal you’ll be able to enjoy a nutritious meal at the airport.
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