How to eat healthy in the airport
By Aimee Heckel
You’re stuck at the airport with the worst kind of layover: too short to venture out into the city, but too long to forgo eating a meal. With nothing else to do — well, other than superb people-watching — chances are your hunger pains will be moaning extra loudly. Boredom growls: They’re real.
But, in many cases, you’d be better off licking the handrail of the escalator than eating some of the fast “food” (when you reach a certain level of preservatives and modifications, it just stops being food anymore) offered at airport restaurants. And the surest guarantee of making your upcoming flight as miserable as possible is to indulge in a big bucket of grease and fried glop.
Here’s your dietary guide to surviving the airport — and a shout-out to some of the best airport restaurants around the country.
1. Drink water. A good ol’ bottle of Dasani will help keep you hydrated, which can reduce headaches, jet lag, stomach aches — basically, water can solve everything. Steer clear of too much caffeine, even if you’re tired, because — guess what? — the buzz will wear off and leave you dragging lower than before. A light beer or wine might help with the jitters, but be careful not to overindulge. It doesn’t get more miserable than a hangover mid-sky. Um, or so we’ve heard.
Tip: Opt for bottled water, even though prices are grotesquely inflated in airports. Not all cities have delicious tap water, and some ice cubes can be made from questionable water, too. Same goes for the flight: Don’t drink the sink water. And stop wasting your money on sports drinks like Gatorade, which pack enough sugar that you may as well save the illusion and gobble a candy bar. Twelve ounces of Gatorade contains a whopping 31 grams of sugar.
2. Go for the fruit, according to the website Sheknows.com. Fresh fruit and salads — where you can control the dressing, cheese, bacon bits (OK, stay away from the bacon bits) — are a safe bet. If you’re in a rush, Sheknows.com recommends grabbing a fruit cup or banana.
3. Beware of hidden offenders on seemingly healthy options, like sandwiches. Especially pre-made sandwiches, which you can’t order without the copious amounts of mayo.
4. If you absolutely must caffeinate or you will collapse, avoid the 400-calorie large McDonald’s mocha. This guy packs 14-grams of fat and 49-grams of sugar. That’s the caloric equivalent of eating six Fudgsicles, according to Today.com. Instead, order a simple, small, skim latte. If you think you need more caffeine, get a double shot, but don’t waste space on the double dairy. We don’t need to tell you to say no to the whipped cream. You know this.
5. Check the GateGuru app, which can connect you with amenities at your airport. GateGuru also offers a list of its favorite airport restaurants. On the list: UFood Grill at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, with its “unguilty” menu of tofu, baked fries and steamed brocolli. Looking for a big meal? Try the bison burger. Need something light? Order an acai smoothie. The UFood Grill even lists calories on the menu, so you know what you’re dealing with.
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Photo of smoothies from the UFood Grill.