Q: My lifestyle finds me on the move almost every day, so good food choices are sometimes elusive. I believe I need to reduce my carb load and focus on protein. My weakness is desserts — I succumbed to a blueberry cheese danish at the airport. What fast food choices can you recommend so I can ward off that danish?
Although it may seem like nutritious meal and snack options are limited at airports, rest stops, and convenience stores, knowing which items to look for can broaden your choices for healthy fast foods.
Airports tend to have a high concentration of fast food restaurants and junk food offerings. However, most airports also have restaurants that offer healthy meal choices or shops that stock their shelves with nutritious snacks and beverages.
For example, visiting a sit-down restaurant or bar over a fast-food establishment can help you make better choices and eat less throughout the day.
When choosing a meal or snack, take a moment to consider what it can offer your body in terms of nutrition. Ask yourself if the item you want is a filling choice that will keep you satisfied, which is key to maintaining a healthy body weight.
Meals and snacks that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats can help keep you feeling full longer than foods low in protein and high in refined carbs and added sugars ().
Although the blueberry cheese danish most likely satisfied your sweet tooth, chances are it didn’t keep you full for long. Plus, items like danishes are high in added sugars and refined carbs, which can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels — possibly driving hunger and harming your health (, ).
Thus, getting nutritious, protein- and fiber-rich meals and snacks should be a priority.
What to Eat Instead
When at an airport restaurant, try ordering a dish that consists of plenty of fresh or cooked vegetables served with a filling source of protein, such as a garden salad with grilled chicken or a hard-boiled egg. Salad toppings like nuts, seeds, cheese, and avocado offer healthy sources of fats that can help increase feelings of fullness.
When choosing a snack item from convenience stores or gas stations, opt for minimally processed, protein- and fiber-rich items, such as:
- cheese sticks
- nut butter and fruit
- hard-boiled eggs
- hummus and veggie packs
- trail mix
Additionally, it’s best to forgo calorie- and sugar-laden beverages, including sweetened coffee drinks, sodas, and energy drinks. Opt for water or unsweetened herbal teas to keep your calorie and sugar intake in check.
Jillian Kubala is a Registered Dietitian based in Westhampton, NY. Jillian holds a master’s degree in nutrition from Stony Brook University School of Medicine as well as an undergraduate degree in nutrition science. Aside from writing for Healthline Nutrition, she runs a private practice based on the east end of Long Island, NY, where she helps her clients achieve optimal wellness through nutritional and lifestyle changes. Jillian practices what she preaches, spending her free time tending to her small farm that includes vegetable and flower gardens and a flock of chickens. Reach out to her through her website or on Instagram.