Airport food has a bad rep – people think of it as unhealthy and uninspiring. Tucking into something fried, battered or sugary is often a hallmark of traveling, either as a treat or a last resort. But junk food makes you feel bloated and sluggish, which is especially unhelpful when traveling.
Bringing your own healthy food to the airport is an option, but lots of food doesn’t hold up well in transit (see: the bruised brown banana in the bottom of your bag), and with restrictions on liquids, you may end up with no dressing for your salad.
So what’s a frequent flier to do?
The good news is that the cafés, bars and restaurants at Birmingham Airport offer a variety of delicious, healthy food that’s as flavourful as it is nutritious. Joe and the Juice recently joined the line-up of healthy eateries in the departure lounge, with their signature juices, shakes, coffees and sandwiches. To celebrate their launch, here are our top tips for healthy eating at the airport.
Get some of your five a day – Antioxidants and vitamins improve your mood and immune system, which equals less travel stress and illness. Don’t confine vegetables to the realm of side dishes; upgrade them to entrée status. Pret a Manger’s new SuperBowls are crammed with a kaleidoscopic array of fruits and veggies, complemented by good grains like quinoa. Try the hearty roasted Beets, Squash and Feta bowl, or the Asian-inspired Crayfish, Mango and Cashew bowl. These meals aren’t just for vegetarians; they’re scrumptious enough to be enjoyed by everyone.
Stay hydrated – There’s a reason you’re always thirsty and your skin feels dry during flights. The humidity levels in airplane cabins are usually around 20%, much lower than the 40% and up in our regular environments. Proper hydration while flying is crucial. A bottle of water is a great option, but for something more flavourful, sip on a vitamin-packed drink from Joe and the Juice. With names like Pick Me Up, Power Shake, Iron Man and Green Shield, these aren’t ordinary juices.
Keep the balance – Eat a mix of whole grains, fresh vegetables and lean protein, like Wetherspoon’s new superfood pasta or rainbow salad, loaded with peppers, butternut squash, kale, lentils and more. Top either with chicken, salmon, halloumi or mozzarella for a protein boost. Balanced, fibre-rich meals like these will help you digest slowly, regulate your blood sugar levels, and keep you full until you reach your destination.
Customise your meals – Even though you’re not cooking, you can still customise your meals to make them healthier. Take an example from Giraffe, which offers no-bun burgers, served with slices of avocado and tomato and an herb salad. If you’re dining in at a restaurant, request no added salt in your meal and add your own at the table. Ask for salad dressing and sauces on the side so you can control the amount. Instead of mayonnaise and cheese, use herbs, citrus and olive oil to give your food a piquant pop.
Make good choices all day – At breakfast, skip the greasy bacon butties and the decadent pancakes. Instead opt for an egg white omelette with fresh salsa or porridge topped with fruit and seeds, nutritious choices available on Giraffe’s Healthy Mornings menu. For lunch and dinner, stick to whole grains, healthy proteins and lots of veggies. Try All Bar One’s vegan Miso Rice Bowl or their peri-peri grilled chicken with a side salad.
Buy snacks to eat during flight – Many short-haul flights offer small or no complimentary snacks. Purchasing snacks on-board the plane means choosing from a limited and often expensive selection. Save money and maximise choice by stocking up before you fly at airport stores like M&S Simply Food and Boots. Granola bars, whole fruit, unsalted nuts, baked crisps and pretzels all make tasty and filling snacks.