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Eat Healthy at the Airport or on the Road

Plan ahead so you don’t leave smart eating to chance

When you travel by air or car, it can be harder to stay your nutritional course, but this advice can help.

  1. Plan ahead: It’s so important to be prepared. Travel presents variables that are out of your control. Expect those surprises so you make smarter choices.
  2. Be good to yourself: With less healthy choices around, you may feel deprived when you pass up the high-fat, high-calorie options that are available. That may cause food cravings, so allow yourself to splurge a little. For example, if gelato is your favorite and it’s a specialty where you are, enjoy a moderate amount, but limit yourself to that one treat for the day.
  3. Mess less: When you travel, you don’t want to deal with a three-course meal balancing on your lap. Think portable, packable, and mess-free. Put food in baggies or use a resealable plastic container with a twist-off cap.
  4. Pack these snacks: Choose healthy, tasty items that don’t need refrigeration:
    • Whole, dried, or freeze-dried fruits: Get vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
    • Pre-portioned nuts and seeds: Eat a quarter-cup serving for fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and plant sterols and stanols that help lower cholesterol.
    • Roasted chickpea and edamame: Benefits include minerals, protein, limited carbohydrates, and fiber, which can help lower bad cholesterol.
    • Whole-grain crackers with nut butter: It’s a nice combination of healthy fat, plant-based protein, and fiber.
  5. In the airport food court: You can make these smart decisions:
    • Yogurt parfait: Choose a container of plain yogurt for less sugar, and add fresh berries and a quarter-cup of nuts for crunch.
    • Salad: Go for the darker, leafy greens such as spinach and kale for maximum nutritional boost. Add some lean protein—a hard-boiled egg, salmon, chicken, or beans. Skip the mayonnaise-based salads. Ask for dressing on the side. Choose a light vinaigrette or make your own oil-and-vinegar combo.
    • Soups: Leave these alone, since commercial soups can be very high in sodium. Even one cup can rack up 500 to 1,000 milligrams of sodium.
    • Oatmeal: This minimally processed whole food is a great source of soluble fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Stir in a tablespoon of peanut butter for healthy fat and plant-based protein.
  6. When you eat out:
    • Limit meat portions to the size of the palm of your hand.
    • Ask for proteins to be grilled or poached, not fried.
    • Request extra veggies on the side so they’re not just a garnish.
    • Choose brown rice instead of white.
    • Have fruit for dessert.
    • Drink plenty of water to fill you up and slow you down.

Decide before you go out that not only will you be on time, you’ll also be on track with your usual good nutrition.


Kim-Thao Nguyen