Holiday season is coming, and many people will be hopping on planes to visit their parents and other family.
While you’re waiting for your flight, it’s hard to find anything good to eat at an airport, let alone healthy food. Although we’re seeing more and more small cafes serving fresh fruit and juices, fast food still seems to dominate in airports. So, what should you choose to eat? How can we eat healthily at an airport?
First, consider that airports know the passengers are often angry, stressed, or running late, so they take advantage of the situation. They offer you overpriced chocolate, chips, fries, hamburgers, cookies, and so on. All this junk food triggers emotional eating. Eating them has an immediate calming effect on us, because they contain a lot of sugar, which raises the blood sugar quickly. Unfortunately, they lower the blood sugar just as quickly, causing a sort of low afterwards. That’s why we feel so tired after eating this kind of food.
You’ll also see foods at airports that seem very healthy, but really they’re not! Here are some examples of misleading foods:
Yoghurt with fruit: Did you know that yoghurt with fruit could contain more sugar than a candy bar? Be wary of this and always read the label carefully! You should especially avoid “light” yoghurt, because although they take out most of the fat, they add a ton of sugar instead!
Ready-to-eat salads: The problem with these is that we don’t know anything about the quality of the product! Where did the ingredients come from? When was it prepared? How well was it washed? What’s more, the dressing it comes with is probably sweet, salty and fatty. We don’t even know what type of oil it contains!
Packages of dried fruit and nuts: Everyone thinks dried fruits are a healthy option because they contain vitamins and good fats. Yes, they do normally, but not these packages! Everything contained in these packages is salty, sugary, and fatty. You might think, “The fat is just normal. They’re nuts after all,” but you’d be wrong! This added fat is bad for you, and they add way too much salt as well! They even add sugar, and let’s not forget about all the preservatives and other additives!
The same thing goes for granola bars. They’re made from a kind of muesli mixed with sugar/honey and butter/oil. Because we’ve learned that granola is healthy, we think these bars will be a healthy option, but some bars can contain as much as 700 calories! That’s way too much for a snack.
Smoothies: We know fruits are healthy, and we should eat at least five a day. So, you’re probably thinking a fruit smoothie is healthy too? In reality, a smoothie contains juice (sugar without fiber), sugar or honey, yoghurt (lactose, which is a milk sugar, and fat) and ice-cream (sugar and fat). What’s more, if it’s an American version, it’ll also contain peanut butter with its extra sugar, fat, and salt. We’re now talking 600 calories for a drink! Excuse me, but did you think smoothies were healthy?
Wine: Stop drinking wine before you harm yourself! You’re probably thinking, “But hey, a little wine is good for you. Even my doctor told me that red wine was good for me!” No, it’s not good at all! Changes in the cabin pressure and potential dehydration can increase the effects of alcohol. Also, we lose electrolytes by drinking alcohol, and this increases the urge to drink sugary sodas and eat fatty foods.
I realize you’re probably not liking what I’m saying. I’m probably ruining your few moments of pleasure while travelling, but don’t worry, here are some healthy alternatives:
Take your own fruit with you in a bag, such as apples, pears, grapes, bananas, and so on. Remember, you can’t take a metal knife with you, so slice them at home if needed and store them in a Ziploc bag.
Make your own muesli. Again, use a Ziploc bag or something similar to store a mix of oats, fresh fruit, and unsalted dried fruit. You can usually find a spoon, but take a plastic one with you if you want.
Take some dried fruits and nuts. Fill a small bag with things like raisins, dried apricots, raw (unroasted and unsalted) almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts. It’ll be a pleasure to eat these!
Do you want to take a smoothie with you? If so, choose the ingredients yourself and keep it simple! Use almond or soya milk and water rather than juice. Switch the syrup/honey for some bananas. I promise it’ll be delicious.
What to eat for a meal? Take some guacamole, hummus, and pita bread. Prepare it all before you leave and store it in an airtight bag or container. If you prefer, you could make your own salad instead. Wash some lettuce leaves, cut some tomato and cucumber (especially if it’s in season), and add some olives. To dress it, you can use lemon juice and just a drizzle of olive oil. Voila! You have a healthy and good-quality homemade salad.
Always drink plenty of water! Keep your body well hydrated to avoid ill effects (such as deep vein thrombosis) during the trip. You’ll be happy you did.
I know it’s not easy to resist the junk, but your health is very important, and it only takes some organization and self-discipline! Make your life easier by making sure you have everything on hand well in advance. Don’t make excuses like, “Sure, but I already need to pack the cases. Besides, I’ve got the kids to organize and everything’s so complicated…” The health of you and your children should be the top priority! You should have good habits that you can pass onto your children. You could always include your children in the food preparation. Ask them to help you out—I’m sure they’ll enjoy it!
Wishing you a great holiday season with your loved ones.
Celina Stamboli Rodriguez
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