Airport terminals are like a giant impulse aisle, full of temptations you may usually resist, whether it’s glossy gossip mags or salty snacks. Even if you’re traveling for business, it can be easy to adopt a vacation-mode mentality, dropping your usual healthy eating habits or over-eating out of boredom or travel anxiety.
That’ll probably lead to regrets later in the day: Opting for unhealthy snacks can result in GI upset or feeling hangry (thanks, sugar crash), points out Ginger Hultin, RDN, a Seattle-based Arivale coach. “Keep in mind how you want to feel in the long-term: tired and cranky or energetic and alert? Snacking at the airport can greatly affect the experience you’ll have on the flight and on your trip,” Hultin says.
Fortunately, there are plenty of good-for-you eats available at airports these days. We spoke to nutrition experts to find out which foods they eat before a flight—and which ones they avoid at all costs.
Fruit and vegetables
Even at a small terminal, you’re likely to spot a mound of apples or a basket of bananas beside a cash register somewhere. “I always try to seek out fresh fruits or vegetables at the airport because it gives me a little boost of fiber, water content, and helps me feel energized, not weighed down, before I board,” says Ehsaei.
Bonus: If you can find fruit like apples, pears, clementines, or blueberries, you can also calm a sweet tooth, says Rachel Daniels, director of nutrition for Virtual Health Partners. “Fresh cut up fruit is also a great option, but it may be challenging to know how fresh the fruit is [until] you dig in,” says Susan Weiner, RDN, owner of Susan Weiner Nutrition.
If you eat a yogurt for breakfast or snacks on ordinary days, keep up the practice while you’re traveling. “If I don’t have time for breakfast before the airport or if it is just too early I will grab a plain Greek yogurt from [an airport market] and have it with a banana. Ideally the yogurt will be full fat for satiety and metabolism, but if nonfat is my only option, I will grab a small bag of raw nuts or a nut butter packet for some healthy fat,” says Sydney Greene, RD, at Middleberg Nutrition.