Summer travel can mean plenty of time in airports. If you make it to your gate early (major kudos to you) or find yourself hungry during a long layover, it’s totally natural to salivate while passing a Dunkin’ Donuts or be tempted by the familiar scent of McDonald’s fries. After all, a glazed original sounds way better than a bottle of Smartwater and pre-packaged carrot sticks. While we recommend packing your own food (AKA leftover Cali’flour pizza), we also understand that early take-off times and jet-setting with toddlers doesn’t make planning ahead feasible.
We’ve got you covered. Next time you’re starving or craving a snack at the terminal, keep these ideas in mind to stay full and healthy on the fly — pun intended.
The oatmeal at Starbucks or Peets is a satisfying, healthy option that’s full of fiber and works to lower cholesterol. Oatmeal doesn’t just have to be for enjoyed breakfast, either. We love it during the afternoon as post-workout (or post-TSA) fuel. But coffee shops often throw in toppings like brown sugar and dried fruit, so order it plain to keep your blood sugar stable. You can mix in some unsalted almonds or cashews from a Hudson News or other airport convenience store if you want a little crunch and dose of healthy fat to keep you fuller for longer — no need to reach for those cookies from the flight attendant.
Many Mexican airport joints have a bowl, salad, fajita, or platter menu option that contains grilled veggies, a protein source, and a healthy fat like avocado slices or guacamole. If this isn’t the case, they usually have all the ingredients to make a healthy meal happen. Therefore, a little customization can go a long way. Here’s an example: If the restaurant has chicken tacos or a beef burrito on the menu, see if you can sub the tortilla for a bed of lettuce. To keep your order as clean as possible, skip the added sauces — it’s not always clear what ingredients are lurking in these. But you know what makes a great, creamy dressing? Pico de gallo, guacamole, and a couple of squeezes of lime.
Speaking of customization, try going the DIY route at a smoothie or juice bar, like Jamba Juice or Smoothie King. Who knows — you might even be able to make something similar to what you’d blend up for yourself at home. Our go-to smoothie recipe is one that contains fiber, protein, fat, and greens. Need some inspiration? In Jamba Juice terms (yep — we checked out the menu for you), an order might look like: kale, cucumber, or spinach (greens), chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, or fruit (fiber), peanut butter (fat), protein powder (protein), and water to blend.
Last but not least, we want to add: We get that it can feel uncomfortable to customize orders — after all, no one wants to be “that person” at a restaurant or at the front of the line. But it’s actually OK to be “that person” who cares about their health, if it’s something you value and choose to prioritize. The worst someone can say is “no.” However, the best case scenario? You feel great about your choices, even when you’re on-the-go. We’re all about the occasional indulgence (especially on vacation), too, so if those tacos and fries are calling your name and will hit the spot — go for it. You do you. It’s all about balance, which sometimes might look like a green juice, donut, boarding pass, and passport.
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