|Travel is in the air (lol, pun not totally intended!) With the holidays before us and more and more people getting in the swing of travel, especially airline travel, I have been asked what I recommend to eat while traveling!
Most airport food courts and convenience shops are like bombing grounds for your metabolic and gut health. They are full of snack foods and candy that are high in calories and empty carbs but low in nutrients. That combo puts you on a fast track for sky-high glucose and gut issues just in time to get on the plane…..and that’s just the beginning.
Making matters worse is how demanding air travel is on your body. Being jet-lagged and dehydrated can influence your body’s ability to process glucose, disrupt your gut, creating poor digestion. The stress of hectic travel, crowds, and too few healthy food options may also affect your food choices FOR THE WORSE. The whole experience can end up turning into a vicious cycle, causing gut and blood sugar issues throughout your travel, leaving you feeling sluggish and exacerbating the exhaustion of travel and jet lag.
SO, WHAT CAN WE DO????
Fortunately, you can eat better when you travel with a bit of preparation. Below, find some easy-to-pack snacks and healthy travel options to buy on the go.
| Healthier Airport Snacks to Prep at Home: What can you bring through TSA Security? Solid food items are generally allowed. Liquid or gels can be problematic, so if you have any, you’ll want to pack them in a separate container that’s less than 3.4 ounces. For your drink, bring an empty water bottle from home. Many airports have water bottle filling stations. H2O (and plenty of it) is the best way to stay hydrated when you fly. All that said, there are no hard and fast “definites” with what they will allow, and the TSA officer on-site always has the final say on whether what you’ve packed is permitted (let’s be honest, some airports are easier than others).
Here are some ideas for homemade snacks that should get through security without difficulty:
Chopped salad: Scour your fridge for sturdy vegetables like kale, carrots, and cabbage (I call it “the kitchen sink” salad). Chop everything up and toss with toasted seeds (pumpkin seeds are great) and a little bit of your favorite dressing (with no added sugar!). Hearty vegetables stand up to being dressed in advance but if you want to store dressing on the side, make sure it’s in a sub-3.4 ounce container like this.
Bonus: This “everything but the kitchen sink” salad will clear-out-the-fridge salad helps avoid spoilage of food left behind while you’re on the road. It’s best to keep a salad like this cold, and you can do it with travel-friendly ice packs. Just be sure they are frozen solid when you head through security. If they’re melted, they’ll need to meet the liquids rule.
Vegetable sticks with hummus: Cut up some and pair them with homemade or store-bought hummus (just keep the container under 3.4 ounces).
Celery and peanut butter: Slather some celery sticks with your favorite sugar-free nut butter. Sprinkle them with a little cayenne to spice things up.
Easy deviled eggs: You don’t have to break out a bowl and a mixer. Just top halved hard-boiled eggs with a thin smear of mayonnaise, some spices you love (smoked paprika, sea salt, olive oil), slices of avocado, radish, or prosciutto, and you’re good to go with a snack rich in protein. If you plan to eat on the plane and you’re worried about the smell, opt for plain boiled eggs instead.
Tuna salad on seed crackers: Flax Seed Crackers serve as a perfect crisp surface for salads and spreads. Top with tuna salad, chicken salad, or guacamole. The soluble fiber in flax can help with better digestion….for a win/win.
Salmon cucumber boats: Halve an English cucumber and hollow it out by removing the seeds with a spoon. Mash canned or smoked salmon together with cream cheese, and fill in your cucumber boats with the mixture. If you want to feel fancy, top with minced chives. It’s very fancy like too!
| No Prep Required: Things You Can Buy and Bring to the Airport:
Olive packets: Available at Thrive Market these are my favorite and always in my bag, a portion-controlled pack of olives will help hold off hunger (no “hangry” here). Olives are rich in healthy fats and beneficial for cardiovascular health and combating inflammation.
Trail mix: Bypass the options filled with sugary dried fruit and pick up a trail mix packed with raw nuts or make your own for a touch of sweetness that won’t spike your blood sugar. Shopping tip: You might see these blends labeled “keto” trail mix.
Nut butter packets: Nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats, micronutrients, and omega-3s, and these packs are a convenient way to pack a lot of calories in a small space. Just be sure to check for added sugar.
Poshi brand steamed and marinated asparagus: It’s flavored with fragrant herbs including rosemary and oregano and marinated in healthy olive oil (I feel fancy when I eat them). The green spears are rich in micronutrients (including vitamins B and K), as well as antioxidants and fiber.
Dried Meat sticks: Thrive Market makes a line of clean, lean, shelf-stable meat snacks. Their meat bars have as much as 13g of protein and are made from beef, chicken, venison, turkey, or pork with no added sugar or nitrates.
Whole fruit: While fruit is higher in sugar, it also has fiber to help keep your blood sugar more balanced and delivers antioxidants and micronutrients. Some of the best traveling options include oranges, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries (I love to put them in a silicone travel pack like this. Even better: pair them with a nut butter to help keep you feeling satiated and balanced.
Sardines: These tiny fish contain lean protein and healthy fats. Just beware that canned versions may trigger extra TSA screening that could land your fish in the trash can. Play it safe by looking for sardines or other fish sold in pouches.
| If You Must Buy Food From an Airport Store
If you find yourself empty-handed and hungry at the airport, the convenience store may be your only option. Be wary of healthy-looking energy bars and snack boxes, which often contain added sugars and refined grains and are likely to cause a blood sugar spike in some people—just the thing you’re trying to avoid before getting on a plane. Instead, look for these common options:
Nuts: Nuts are a highly satiating food and one of the only vegan-friendly options you’re likely to find in just about any airport store or vending machine. Choose a blend of raw mixed nuts that includes Brazil nuts, and you’ll get your daily value of selenium, a micronutrient with powerful metabolic benefits. Beware of flavored varieties, which can be full of sugar.
Dark chocolate: Aim for very dark (80% cocoa or more). The higher this percentage, the lower the amount of sugar it contains. Keto Cup and Choczero brands are a good alternative.
Hard-boiled eggs: A plain hard-boiled egg provides protein and heart-healthy fats with an almost negligible amount of carbs and is sometimes available in grab and go containers.