If you were among the roughly 45 million passengers traveling by air last holiday season, you know what challenges await you at the airport. Delays, crying children and diet-busting meal choices galore.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You could, for example, prep some healthy food and snacks in advance — sandwiches, yogurt, that sort of thing. But let’s be realistic. Even the best laid plans are no match for the unpredictable nature of air travel, where one snowstorm over the Midwest can lead to you spending a wretched, hurried night in a Wichita airport hotel, rather than at home with your loved ones. (This happened to me once — my plane was re-routed while I napped, and I woke up with no idea where I was and about six hours before my rescheduled flight was due to take off. It was miserable.)
Your better bet is to do a little research, either ahead of time or in the moment, with our handy calorie-tracking app, which has nutritional info for airport staples like Cibo Express. Or, when all else fails, get one of the following foods, which will keep your diet on track, even if your flight path is anything but.
1. TURKEY WRAP OR TURKEY SANDWICH
Where: Cibo Express
Calorie count: wrap: 442 calories; sandwich: 620
With locations at 10 airports (and seeming ubiquity within those airports), Cibo Express is a good name to keep in mind during your travels. It has a ton of healthy-ish pre-packaged food, from nuts to yogurt, not to mention a bunch of pre-made sandwiches, salads and wraps.
2. SAUSAGE MCMUFFIN WITH CHEESE
Calorie count: 470
Hear us out. Is this the healthiest thing you’ll ever eat? Absolutely not. But is it quick? Cheap? Loaded with protein? Available at just about every airport in the country? Check, check, check and check. And at 470 calories — or less, if you go for the options without sausage (my preference) or without cheese — it won’t wreck your diet, either. (That’s the reality of airports: Sometimes you have to settle for the least-bad option, rather than the best.)
READ MORE > WHAT’S THE HEALTHIEST THING TO EAT AT MCDONALD’S?
3. HAM BREAKFAST SANDWICH
Calorie count: 350
Another breakfast-y option that’s typically available all day, this makes a quick-and-easy pick-me-up when paired with that necessary drip coffee. (Suffice it to say a Frappuccino is out of the question.) Starbucks has stepped up its sandwich game in recent years, and this one is modestly sized and won’t leave you with that greasy, gut-bomb feeling.
4. PRETZELS AND HUMMUS
Where: Cibo Express
Calorie count: 380
We recently saw an expert who recommended carrying chia seeds to the airport, so you can drop them into, say, yogurt, and enjoy the benefits of the superfood. For a simpler way to get your protein, go with tasty hummus. It’s packed with fiber and nutrients like iron, phosphorous, antioxidants — and even vitamin C, to help ward off the inevitable winter cold. Ditch pretzels and bring your own carrots to save on carbs and sodium.
READ MORE > THE HEALTHIEST STADIUM FOOD IN AMERICA
Calorie count: roughly 100
Still one of the easiest ways to go: Buy an apple or a banana at just about any shop in the airport. Or better yet, just bring your own. You probably don’t need us to explain the benefits of eating fruit, but suffice it to say, it will help you feel full, and therefore keep you from overindulging elsewhere on your trip. It’s also super-cheap (even by airport standards), leaving you with more money to spend on a really nice dinner when you finally get to your destination.