How to Eat Well On the Fly

I’ve been lucky enough to do my fair share of traveling this spring and summer…I’ve gone west, (a bit) south and am headed to the midwest as we speak—pardon the blog break as I’m planning to unplug!

All of this jetsetting inspired today’s post: How to make smart, nutritious choices while in airports. When you stroll (or rush) from one gate to another, you’re likely to pass a burger joint, a pizza buffet and a cinnamon bun shop—oh that tempting aroma :) But if you plan ahead and keep these tips in mind, you can make smart choices after you pass through security, even if your only options are those fast food stops!

  1. Do research early. You generally book your flight several weeks in advance, right? So you should be able to find out what terminal your airline flies out of. Spend a few minutes digging around (what did we do before Google?) to find out what may be available in your terminal.
  2. Prepare and pack. You can’t bring in liquids larger than three ounces, but you can tote many food items through security. A bowl of nutritious cereal, a PB&J on whole-wheat bread, sturdy pieces of fruit and low-fat cheese with whole-wheat crackers are all smart picks. You can also supplement what you bring in with what’s sold in your terminal (a mini-carton of low-fat milk, a bag of PopChips, a side salad) for a well-balanced and more filling meal.
  3. Walk on by. After you pass through the metal detectors, take a walking tour! This is one of my favorite parts. Since you’re often required to arrive early to ensure you have enough time to make your way through security, you’ll likely have plenty of spare minutes to get moving. Walk as far as you can, or as far as you feel comfortable while carrying your luggage, do some people watching and discover your full list of dining options. Bonus points for carrying your bag!
  4. Try tech tools. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to tour the landscape, download the Gate Guru app. It’s a (free!) useful tool that tips users off to what amenities are available in their terminal and includes ratings and reviews for shops in more than 100 airports. Use it to find the healthiest place to grab a snack instead of starving during closely-booked flights!
  5. Keep my cheat sheet handy. Certain establishments pop up at nearly every major airport. Having a go-to order that you know will fill you up without overloading on grease is always a smart idea. Here’s my favorite order from ten common terminal restaurants, whether you’re stopping for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. All of these choices leave plenty of room for additional plane snacks as well.

Subway: Bowl of roasted chicken noodle soup, garden salad with turkey breast and light Italian dressing. (225 calories, 4 g fat)

Wendy’s: Small chili, side salad and 1/2 baked potato. (370 calories, 6 g fat)

McDonald’s: Reduced-fat vanilla ice cream cone. (150 calories, 3.5 g fat)

Chili’s: Bowl of green chicken chili, steamed broccoli. (280 calories, 13 g fat)

Burger King: TENDERGRILL garden salad, fresh apple fries. (300 calories, 7.5 g fat)

Manchu Wok: Chicken with snow peas, mixed vegetables (270 calories, 19 g fat)

Burrito Beach: Lo-Carb Burrito Bowl with grilled chicken, onion, cilantro, corn relish and salsa. (275 calories, 11 g fat) Add a grilled veggie soft taco for about 100 calories and 4 g fat more!

Dunkin’ Donuts: Egg white turkey sausage flatbread (280 calories, 8 g fat)

Jamba Juice: Blueberry blackberry oatmeal. (290 calories, 3.5 g fat)

Starbucks: Chicken on flatbread with hummus artisan snack plate. (250 calories, 9 g fat)

6. Don’t beat yourself up. If you snag a bag of Twizzlers or ordered a tempting large soft pretzel, just enjoy it and plan to make a healthier choice at your next meal. It is most likely a vacation after all, so take it easy!

Here are some additional nutritious airport eating resources…

Photo courtesy of Flickr user xlibber.

Do you have a go-to meal or snack when at the airport?

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