Whether you’re boarding the plane on a business trip or hitting the road for a well-deserved vacation, you’ll most likely face the same problems that many health-conscious travelers have struggled with: the lack of nutritious options for a meal or even a quick snack. Fortunately, making nutritious snack choices doesn’t mean sacrificing taste or convenience. Here are a few options to consider:
Soothe a sweet tooth
Instead of reaching for a sugary candy bar, pack a plastic lidded container with fresh fruit the night before your departure. Peel an orange, rinse out half-cup servings of strawberries and blueberries and toss in a handful of frozen seedless grapes for a utensil-free fruit salad you can enjoy on the go. You can also pack a banana, pear or an apple for a portable snack that doesn’t require a plastic container. To keep the fruit as fresh as possible, refrigerate the container until you’re ready to leave.
Minimize the damage of mindless snacking
When you’re stuck in your seat for hours with nothing else to do, you might reach for a handful of potato chips to munch on out of sheer boredom. Fortunately, you can indulge on this impulse and still get your five recommended daily vegetable servings by substituting the bag of chips for a medley of baby carrots, sliced bell peppers, edamame, steamed broccoli florets and/or celery sticks, kept fresh in a Ziploc bag. Eat multiple servings of these nutrient powerhouses (feel free to add a spoonful or two of hummus or guacamole) and you would still consume less than half the calories present in one bag of chips.
If you’d prefer not to spend time cutting up produce, packages of pre-sliced vegetables are available in grocery stores for a slightly higher price. Like the fruit, make sure to keep your vegetables fresh by storing them in the fridge until the day of your departure.
Crunch away boredom
For a pleasurably crunchy snack that keeps your stomach satisfied, portion out one ounce of unsalted roasted almonds—about 22 almonds—to eat on the flight. This will give you six grams of protein and plenty of magnesium and vitamin E in approximately 160 calories. You can add whole grain cereal, popcorn and dried fruit to make trail mix, but be warned: as healthy as this snack is, it isn’t light on calories.
Substitute a meal
If you need more than a small snack to tide you over on a light flight, try the classic peanut butter sandwich—minus the jelly—with 100% whole grain bread. The fiber from the bread and the protein from the peanut butter should keep you full for at least a few hours.
Meat lovers can satisfy their appetites with jerky, which is portable and, believe it or not, not just made from beef. You can get pork, chicken and turkey jerky in most supermarkets. Vegetarians can also buy soy jerky; several options include Tasty Eats Soy Jerky and Primal Strips Meatless Vegan Jerky, both available at Whole Foods.
To avoid confusing thirst with hunger, drink plenty of water. Bring a cooler with cold bottled water for your trip. On flights, we don’t recommend you violate the rules against bringing bottled water, so bring an empty water bottle and fill it with water after passing the security screening at the airport.
If you’re at the airport or on the road and you realize that you forgot to bring along something to eat, you can still make reasonable choices. At a convenience store, pick up a container of low-fat yogurt or stick of string cheese, along with a mini-box of Cheerios and dried fruit. A protein-and-fiber combination wards off hunger pangs better than the usual choice of pretzels or Lay’s. At the airport, look for a protein or granola bar that’s under 200 calories, contains a good source of fiberand has fewer than 10 grams of sugar. You can also fill up on food at the airport before your flight; a turkey sub is probably one of the better options at the food court.
Last modified: June 2, 2010