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Your Guide to Healthy Airport Food

Whether you’re catching a plane for work or pleasure, traveling means long days and unpredictable schedules. Depending on how far you’re flying, your body is also coping with sitting still for hours on end and trying to adjust to time zone differences. All of this can throw your system out of whack. That’s why it’s important not to overindulge in sugary foods while you travel. The more sugar you eat, the more you’re going to end up craving it. Plus, sugar can make you feel tired, bloated, and downright uncomfortable. Although it takes some planning, it’s entirely possible to eat healthy at airports. Here are five things to avoid and five things to do when traveling, so you’re really ready for take-off.

Airport Sugar Traps to Avoid 

Hidden sugar is everywhere, and the airport is no exception. Foods that seem like healthier options can actually be laden with sugar and put you way over the recommended intake of 25 grams of sugar. Here are some of the sneakiest sources: Skip the Sugary Drinks: Most travelers rely on caffeine to keep them going while they travel. Too often, however, caffeine is accompanied by sugar. Avoid sodas and sugary coffee drinks. If you need a boost, opt for coffee that is black or unsweetened iced tea.

  • Say No to Smoothies

    Airports are filled with fast food joints serving fatty and fried foods, which is why many people think that smoothies are a better option. But a small smoothie from McDonalds has an astounding 39 grams of sugarthat's as much sugar as a 12-ounce can of Coke.
  • Ditch the Dressing

     Salads seem like a fairly safe option for healthy eating, but be sure to get the dressing on the side. Not only do dressings pack lots of fat and calories, but they can contain up to a quarter of your daily sugar allowance.
  • Don't Reach For Yogurt

     If you're in the newstand looking for a healthy option, you might head to the refrigerated case for a yogurt. But beware: a yogurt parfait can contain up to 35 grams of sugar.
  • Avoid Airline Snacks

    You might be happy to get a free snack on the plane, it's become such a rare gift. But it's gift you might want to turn down. Most of the drinks offered onboard contain lots of sugar (even diet sodas can trigger sugar cravings), and so do the snacks, from honey-roasted nuts to crackers.

Instead, Choose These Healthy Habits

Travel is unpredictable, but with planning, it's possible to maintain healthy eating while you're in the airport. Here are five tips to help:

  • Bring healthy snacks

    Nuts and cheese sticks are good low-sugar options that can be brought through security with no problem. If you'll be traveling during meal times, consider packing a sandwich or a vegetable wrap to keep you going. Just choose options that can stay fresh without being kept cool and avoid liquids, since those aren't allowed through security.
  • Stay hydrated

    Flying can leave you dehydrated, so be sure to increase your water intake during the day. If you're feeling hungry or craving a snack, drink water first and see if that makes you feel better. To make it easier, bring your own refillable water bottle through security (make sure it's empty) and fill it throughout the day.
  • Maintain regular meals 

    If you can, eat a full meal at home before you get to the airport. That will make all the fast food options much less tempting, and will help stabilize your blood sugar so that you don't feel the need to snack.
  • Look for high-protein snacks 

    No matter how well you plan, you might need to grab a bite on the run. Roasted nuts are high in protein, which will help keep you satiated, and they're available in most convenience stores. Just be sure to avoid sweetened options (like candied and honey-roasted flavors) and look for unsalted ones, toothe extra salt will just make you feel bloated.
  • Choose lower sugar fruit 

    Whole fruit is a better option than fruit salads, which are often sweetened or include dried fruit. Apple has 13 grams of sugar a cup, while a medium banana has 14 grams of sugar. Both have 3 grams of fiber, which help with keeping you satiated.

Although travel is always a bit stressful, eating healthy doesn’t have to add to your worries this summer travel season. Remember that a sugar high isn’t sustainable. You might be tempted to reach for a sweet treat to keep you going at the airport, but remember that every sugar “high” is accompanied by a crash—and that’s the last thing you need while traveling!  

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