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Healthier Airport Food

Your best food choices when you're stuck at the airport.

Healthy Traveler Rule No. 2: Know the Healthier Airport Options continued...

Breakfast and Bagel Shop. It's easy to buy a bagel to bring on the plane with you for breakfast or lunch. A whole-wheat bagel has about 4 grams of fiber, and can be a great choice if you fill it with something light. Try light cream cheese, or turkey breast with veggies and a little avocado. If your stomach is sensitive on travel days, you might even feel better chewing on a plain bagel.

If you want a traditional breakfast, skip the fried potatoes and sausage and choose an egg entrée that is topped or filled with vegetables, not greasy meat. Ask if they can make your egg dish with egg substitute, or one whole egg and two egg whites. If it comes with cheese, ask them to use half the usual amount. If you're partial to pancakes or waffles, don’t drench them with butter or syrup, since most restaurant pancakes/waffles are already pretty rich. Top them with fresh fruit instead.

Healthy Traveler Rule No. 3: Know What to Avoid

"Fried foods are not great unless you want to sleep the entire trip with a belly full of fat," warns Gerbstadt.

It’s important to drink wisely, too. Too much caffeine can promote dehydration, Gerbstadt says. If you must have coffee, Gerbstadt suggests indulging in one cup only, with skim, low-fat or soy milk added.

And the last thing anyone wants when traveling is a case of food poisoning. Gerbstadt warns that any food that requires refrigeration -- like meat, cheese, milk, or foods that contain any of these ingredients -- should be eaten within two hours without refrigeration.

Healthy Traveler Rule No. 4: Soothe Your Stomach

If you tend to get stomach upset while flying, avoid beverages that are known to irritate the stomach (like coffee, alcohol, and orange juice). Ask for drinks that seem to soothe the gastrointestinal tract, like club soda or herb tea.

"Keeping well-hydrated during travel is essential to enduring the rigors of travel," says Anthony Starpoli, MD, an attending physician in gastroenterology at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in Manhattan.

Starpoli also recommends avoiding fried, greasy, rich, or processed food items. That's because fatty foods in general keep food in the stomach longer and can trigger acid reflux or GERD by weakening the lower esophageal sphincter muscle.

If you want to bring along some foods that will help settle your stomach before or during the flight, Starpoli suggests packing crackers, cheese, vegetable sticks, or some fruit. And you can buy a carton of yogurt at the airport, if you like.

"Some yogurt is not a bad idea, unless lactose is an issue," Starpoli says.

Reviewed on May 30, 2007

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