The Hungry and Hopefully Healthy Layover
posted by Stephanie in Dot Dot Dot
photo taken from the article on www.self.com – What Nutritionists Really Eat at Airports
You’re tired, worn out, most likely a little harassed and often times ravenous. Eating at airports can be either a stressful or pleasant experience but more often than not, not a healthy one. When I’ve come back from a crazy, festive getaway and had one of those nights that led from dance floor to airport, I often find myself scarfing down a giant burger and fries combo. Extremely satisfying at the moment but by mid-flight, when the bloat and headache sets in, I’m totally regretting my actions. Sometimes I’m just plain hungry and will eat anything available other times, my layover is just way too long and eating becomes an acceptable way to kill boredom. Whatever it is, perhaps it’s jet lag or the overall anxiety of travel, for some reason my smart decision making skills are highly impaired in airports. I do have to admit though, with a little bit of age and wisdom that I’m very slowly acquiring, I have been making an effort to change that. Eating better during travel not only cuts the bloat but also helps lessen your overall fatigue – with the right diet and hopefully enough shut-eye, you may be able to come out of a flight feeling refreshed and energized.
I came across this article on Self Magazine’s website sharing what nutritionist’s really eat at airports. I thought it was a great read except for one little problem – it mostly talks about US airports. If there’s one thing the americans have got going for them is that they are spoiled for choice. With the overall driving factor of political correctness and being able to cater to everyone’s diet (gluten-free, peanut-free, low carb, low cholesterol, no sugar, kosher, halal, etc…) there are many more options in american airports for tasty and healthy on-the-go dining.
In Asia it’s not necessarily the case. Most of the time your choices are sub par, overpriced concessionaires with dubious looking sandwiches, soggy noodles or fast food joints. So how does one navigate these crazy asian hubs to nourish your hungry soul without ending up looking like a bloated balloon chock full of sodium and MSG? Here are some tips and suggestions on what to munch on.
Hydrate. Most of the time we mistake dehydration for hunger. Grab a big bottle of good mineral water and chug through it. It will fill you up and do wonders for your skin and overall well being.
Get fruity. You often find fresh fruits in asian airports. You may want to skip the durian, but do grab something easy like an apple or a banana. Smoothie and fruit shake joints are all the trend so do go for a fresh fruit shake or smoothie, just have them cut down on the added sugared water or if you can help it, do away with it completely.
Go nuts. Asia is full of nuts… I mean the kind you can munch on! Go for cashews instead of peanuts, try to get them plain or just lightly salted and if they are over seasoned, pour them onto a napkin and lightly wipe or brush out some of salt. Cashews are high in calories (energy!) but full of good fats, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. No need to finish a whole bag buy a small portion or portion it out already.
Okay fine, you say that’s all great but I’m STARVING! Before you move on to the next stages of nourishment, do these three first. At least you will be filling up with the good stuff first.
Cafe Culture. Most Asian airports have a Starbucks or some sort of local version of it. Skip the muffins and cookies and go for the wraps, not so cheesy sandwiches and if they do have a salad option, try that. But if you’re like me and can’t bear to eat a salad in the airport with industrial dressing… I usually go for a very simple sandwich – tomato and mozzarella. I have them heat it up so it’s nice and satisfying.
Still need something heavier?
Avoid oodles of noodles. If you’re tempted by ramen or any kind of soupy noodles – don’t. The broth is usually loaded with all kinds of wonderfully tasting things but that will make your knuckles the size of golf balls.
Sushi Oishi. Many Asian airports have sushi joints and when attacked with a good strategy this makes a nice filling and healthy option. Go for edamame first to load up on some good protein and then have some salad – either cabbage or seaweed. Have them put the dressing on the side so you can control it. Choose sashimi over large overfilled rolls or if you still need some rice, ask for a Chirashi and only eat a small amount. If you’re still a maki-roll kind of diner, you could ask them to make the rolls fresh (when possible) and make it with half the usual amount of rice. Skip anything with mayo or too much and go very easy on the soy. Take out sushi is a great option to bring on the airplane.
Veg up. If you’re going to eat a proper meal choose things that have broccoli or bokchoy, spinach or the local version – morning glory, you could have them hold the sauce and seasoning, or choose the steamed option.
Mmmmezze. If you’re transiting from Asia to the world via a Middle Eastern carrier things will be easier for you. There’s an array of delicious arabic mezzes like hummus and baba ghanoush with some pita, grab some tabbouleh and grilled proteins… Just avoid the samosas or sabbouseks or limit yourself to just one.
Last but not the least, I can’t say it enough – drink lots and lots of water.
And if you really can’t help yourself… indulge and makeup for it when you get home. At least you tried!
Love and Light, Stephanie
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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.
We are The Gypsetters.