Clean Eating Challenge: THE AIRPORT
I think we can all probably say that we have been forced to sabotage our healthy eating routine because we were unprepared and stuck in the airport or on a flight with chips and animal crackers as our only option. If you are on a quest to lose weight or just committed to your clean eating lifestyle, the airport is probably one of the worst places for you to spend your time in. Not only are there tasty indulgences tempting you at every turn, you are also usually sitting around for long periods of time with nothing to do but stare at the Auntie Anne’s pretzel counter. It only gets worse when you are on the plane and the flight attendant begins passing out bags of chips and candy to everyone on board! I love to travel and have been determined to find ways to stick to my clean lifestyle while jet setting to my hearts desire. I just returned from a trip to Florida. The Fort Lauderdale airport is pretty awful when it comes to offering healthy options if you are on a time crunch. However, I was able to concoct a delicious and filling salad to bring on the plane so I wasn't stuck with Blue Chips and a cheese sandwich for lunch. Know that you too can eat clean while traveling. It just takes a little preparation and creativity!
The very best way to avoid crappy airport and airplane food is exactly that. AVOID the airport and airplane food all together. I always try to arrive at the airport prepared with my own snacks and at least one meal so I do not have to go on a scavenger hunt of the terminal to find a healthy option. My favorite snacks to bring are clean bars such as RX bars, raw nuts, cut up veggies, Wild Planet tuna pouches, Justin’s peanut butter packets, Tribe hummus cups and hard boiled eggs. If I know I am traveling during meal time, I will try to bring a salad or make a protein pancake to throw in my bag. In a perfect world, the only money that needs to be spent in the airport is on gossip mags and maybe that phone charger you forgot. However, travel can be super unpredictable and its easy to find yourself sitting at the gate with a rumbling belly, no time to hit up the sit down restaurant, and no food for the flight. When that happens, you need to crafty quickly using only what your terminal has to offer.
There is ALWAYS a salad. It just probably needs a little help…
I have been to many airports in my day, and I have yet to encounter one that doesn't offer some kind of prepackaged salad at a kiosk in the terminal. There is also always some sort of fast food restaurant which usually offer salads as well. The only problem is that most of these salads contain ingredients such a cheese, bacon, croutons, candied nuts, creamy dressings and all other sorts of caloric toppings. If you are going to eat one of these salads as is, you may as well just get the individual pizza from pizza hut. I often buy these salads and edit them down.
Here are some tips for transforming your typical prepackaged airport salad:
- Go for the option with the most veggies. If the salad only contains cheese, croutons and chicken (like a caesar) it wont be much fun once you take off the cheese and croutons.
- When choosing your salad, some great ingredients to look for are grilled chicken, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, carrots, chickpeas, avocado, hard boiled egg, broccoli (or any other raw veggie). The more ingredients you are left with after you remove the bad stuff the better!
- Toppings to remove are candied nuts, dried fruits, tortilla strips, croutons, cheese and bacon.
- Sometimes the only option is a garden salad with no protein. This usually just contains a few ingredients like cucumber, tomato and some lettuce. Here is when preparation comes into play! Packets of tuna are a great way to add protein and they are easy to travel with. Individual hummus cups are also a good option to add to a naked salad. I will also sprinkle some raw nuts on top depending on how hungry I am.
- Another airport kiosk staple is the veggie dipper container. If you are lucky they often offer some cut up celery, carrots and other vegetables with a dipping sauce. Sometimes I will buy this and add those vegetables to my edited down salad. This is an awesome way to really beef up a boring bowl of lettuce!
- When it comes to dressing, go up to a bar (there is ALWAYS a bar) and ask for some lemons and limes. Squeeze those on to your clean concoction with some salt and pepper and voila!
Yes, I know what you are thinking….this takes some extra effort and who the hell has time for all of this!? I was able to buy and create an entire healthy salad using only airport bought food in the 30 minutes I was waiting to board the plane. By the time I was done, they were calling my row. It was an activity to keep me busy while I waited. Between my amazing salad concoction, some nuts and my RX bar, I had plenty of food to keep me full throughout the entire flight. Trust me, when you can get off the plane feeling light, energized and still on track towards your goals you will be happy you took the time!
Do you have a great clean meal that you like to get at the airport? I would love to hear about it! Write in in the comments!