How to Eat Healthy in an Airport

By Erin Wyatt A Recent ASU Nutrition Student


With the next long holiday weekend approaching in May, you may find yourself in an airport. Therefore, you are more than likely to find yourself delayed in an airport. Chances are, you will need to eat at some point. If you had the forethought, or the time, to pack nutritious snacks, I applaud you. If you did not, I am here to help. It is not always easy to eat healthy in an airport, but you can make the best out of any situation. Whether your choices are a restaurant, fast food, or a newsstand, there are tricks to finding the best food options for you and your family.

Airport Restaurants

If you have a lot of time to kill, you may prefer to sit down at one of the restaurants or bars to have a meal. This will provide you with the greatest variety of options, but also the greatest temptations. Try and stick to the starters and salads portion of the menu or share an entrée if you can. Steer clear of fried items and look for lean protein to fill you up while keeping you comfortable during your journey. Below are a variety of choices that you may see on a typical restaurant menu.


Best choices:

  • Hummus appetizer
  • Guacamole appetizer
  • Salad with grilled chicken or fish
  • Turkey burger w/ a salad (instead of French fries)

Worst choices:

  • Jalapeno poppers
  • Fried chicken wings
  • French fries
  • Fried chicken sandwich
  • Macaroni and cheese


Fast Food

Eating healthy at a fast food restaurant is no easy task, but sometimes it is the only option available. Some establishments have started including healthier items on the menus, but these foods are not as prominently displayed on their signs and advertising. Therefore, you need to do a bit of searching before placing your order. Some locations make the calories known, use this to your advantage when you can, as certain items that you think might be healthy can pack in some sneaky calories. The same rules apply here as with the restaurants, choose low fat and try and ignore the fried items. Be mindful of all of the extras that come on sandwiches and salads, like heavy sauces, bacon, and cheeses. You may be thinking, what’s left? Check out the best and worst offenders at typical fast food restaurants below.


Best choices:

  • Grilled chicken wraps
  • Roasted turkey sandwiches
  • Soups
  • Salads with lean meats and low-fat dressings
  • Baked potato with sour cream
  • Fruit

Worst choices:

  • Double bacon cheeseburger
  • French fries
  • Nachos
  • Fried chicken strips
  • Milkshakes



Certain terminals are more bare bones than others or perhaps you only have 5 minutes until boarding, enter the newsstand. These seemingly unappetizing kiosks have more healthy options than you think. Look past all of the tempting candy and choose snacks that will provide more staying power with fiber and protein. Be mindful when reaching for protein bars, as some are full of unnecessary sugars. Feel free to grab a few extra to bring with you on the flight instead of having to resort to in-flight snacks. Below are some of the best and worst choices at the newsstand.


Best choices:

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt

Worst choices:

  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Chips
  • Baked goods


Travel Smart

So next time you are stranded in an airport, have no fear, healthy food can be found. Whether you have time for a restaurant, stuck with fast food, or need to pop by a newsstand, you do not need to go hungry. Stay away from the fried stuff and sugar and opt for lean meats and vegetables. Also, keep hydrated with plenty of water. This will ensure a comfortable journey. Hopefully, these general guidelines will serve you well when you have some tough food decisions to make. Bon Voyage!


Editor’s Note: Watch for an article with advice on meal planning for potential airport delays.

For more articles like this check out our Fill Your Plate Blog. Check out the Farmers Market page to find some of these snacks when you’re not traveling.

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