I travel a lot, mainly for pleasure; however, I always find myself in a jam if I don't bring food with me. Let's face it, airports don't always have the healthiest food options. I find it's always a challenge to eat healthy at an airport, no matter what airport you are at. If only airports would start removing fast food chains, and replacing them with healthy, whole food options, the world would be a much better place or at least I'd be happier.
It's also true when traveling, that we are to blame for being unprepared when going to the airport. Often in a hurry, distracted and stressed, we leave to go to the airport with no food packed. My trips to the airport usually involve me running to my gate, and trying to make my flight on time. This leaves little time for me to worry about my health, and usually forces me to grab something on-the-go at the airport. What we don't realize is that the common airport foods that we think are healthy, are generally bad for you in numerous ways. Below I've created a list of five common airport and/or airplane food items that should be avoided.
1.) Fruit Parfaits
This shouldn't be too hard to believe, but most of fruit parfaits you purchase generally have more sugar in them than a Snickers bar. Just one single serving of yogurt carries around 26 grams of sugar, which is technically what one human should have per day, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
What To Bring Instead: Try bringing Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt generally has 6 grams of sugar, which is 20 grams less than normal yogurt. Also, try sticking a few pieces of fruit in your bag, such as an apple or orange. If you have time at the airport, cut your fruit up and mix them together.
2.) Pre-Packaged Salads
These are the absolute worst. They usually always look very tempting and healthy, but most likely have been sitting out for a while. For all we know, the lettuce could be weeks old and contaminated. Also, pre-washed lettuce is known to be linked to outbreaks of e.coli and various bacterias. Lastly, the pre-packaged salads always contain a dressing that is loaded with saturated fats and large amounts of sodium.
What To Bring Instead: I'll usually always carry a bag of carrots with me; however, if I have time I will stop at Whole Foods and pick up one of their fresh made salads or make my own to bring. This way you know you are putting healthy food into your body.
3.) Trail Mix
When we think of trail mix, for some reason it is embedded in our brains that this is always a healthy snack. Truth is, it almost always isn't. One cup of your normal grocery store bought trail mix carries anywhere from 700-800 calories, along with excess preservatives and fats. The grocery store stuff usually carries things like M&M's and other chocolate they disguise in there. Chances are too, by the end of your flight you will probably consume the entire bag because you think what you are eating is actually healthy.
What To Bring Instead: Make your own trail mix at home and bring it with you. Buy nuts, berries and dried fruits in bulk and throw it in a Ziploc bag. It also wouldn't hurt to measure it out so you can control your portion intake. One of my favorite home-made trail mixes is: unsalted cashews, roasted almonds, dried mangos, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and goji berries.
4.) Energy Bars
Have you ever taken a look at the nutritional ingredients of a so-called "energy bar" and compared them to your favorite candy bar. What you will find out is that the ingredients aren't so far off. Look for a bar that carries around 4 to 6 grams of sugar. Any bar that carries over 20 grams of sugar (Clif Bar for example) you should stay away from. These bars won't come in handy at all if you are trying to burn fat.
What To Buy Instead: Don't get me wrong, there are good, healthy energy bars out there. You just need to be aware of them. I always try and look for energy bars that carry no more than 5 grams of sugar and contain ingredients such as good fibers, protein, and omega-3 essential fatty acids that are easy to digest and won't slow me down. One of my favorites is the Vega Chocolate Coconut Cashew Bar, containing 3g of fiber and 12g of protein into only 270 calories.
5.) Wine (Red or White)
Next time you are sitting at the airport bar, think twice about convincing yourself that a glass or two of red wine is a healthy option. The last thing you want to do to your body before flying is dehydrate it. Also, when flying and having the altitude change, the alcohol can have a much different affect on your body. Lastly, when slightly intoxciated we've all been known to make poor decisions on what we eat after a few beers or glasses of wine.
What To Order Instead: Try ordering sparkling water with a lemon or lime wedge. This is something I always keep at my house whenever I am craving something other than water or juice.
If you have any other snacks that you think are healthy and are great to travel with or eat at the airport, let us know in the comments below!