By Jayne McAllister
As of late, I am told that airports are really upping their game in terms of dining options. However, in my case, the fabulous restaurants are always in the next terminal, so I’ve had to rely on my own resources when it comes to finding fresh, healthy pre-flight food.
Skip the food court and head for a real restaurant. There is usually one “real” restaurant in each airport terminal, by which I mean an establishment that cooks food to order. This makes it infinitely easier for you to order with healthy modifications: hold the mayo, skip the cheese, broiled rather than fried. Restaurant chefs are used to special requests as they have to accommodate gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian and vegan customers on a regular basis.
Make a meal of sides. To cut calories, put together a selection of vegetables: broccoli, spinach and sweet potato would make the perfect pre-flight meal because they’re high in fiber and filling. Add a bit of fish or meat if you like.
Go south of the border. Most airports have a Mexican eatery and it’s easy to order a lower calorie meal if you skip the cheese. Black beans, rice (preferably brown), guacamole, fresh salsa and a corn tortilla provide a beautiful blend of protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fats.
Grab a plate of leafy greens. As we know, flying can make us groggy and jetlagged. A heavy, starchy meal will increase your chances of feeling unmotivated. Eat a salad which will leave you feeling satisfied and energized. If you’re looking to reduce your calorie intake, ask for your salad dressing on the side. Pick an olive-oil based dressing rather than a creamy one.
Portion control. You might think you must eat everything in front of you because you don’t know when you’re going to eat again. I can pretty much guarantee you will not starve if you eat half your meal. By not eating heavily, you will feel better, sleep better, and suffer fewer effects of jetlag. Not to mention, you’ll save calories.
Hydrate before you fly. Many restaurant foods are salty so drinking extra water will keep you balanced and functioning better. You will also have fewer effects of onboard dehydration and jetlag.
Plan ahead. You can check out airport eateries’ websites for nutritional information. For example, Au Bon Pain, located in most major airport locations, provides detailed information about each of its menu items on its site. By planning ahead, you can avoid the egg bagel with bacon and cheese (570 calories/10 grams of saturated fat) and select the egg white cheddar breakfast sandwich (230 calories/6 grams of saturated fat) instead.
Overall, you’re better off eating before you board so you have more control over what you eat. Who knows what you’re going to be served onboard, if anything!
Jayne McAllister is a former travel magazine publisher turned certified health coach who helps travelers worldwide stay healthy from hotel to home. She is a regular contributor to National Health Review, public speaker and blogger. Jayne is founder and CEO of Jayne McAllister Health Solutions and Top Flight Access, a community for travelers who are seeking healthy resources. She is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. www.jaynemcallister.com