Your stress level could be measured on the Richter Scale. It's the week before Christmas, so there are a zillion people at the airport. Your flight has been delayed. The kids are crying. Your husband is yelling. Starving, you find the nearest food vendor and order a $12 basket of chicken fingers with fries.
Been there? Done that? Eating healthy on the road has long been a struggle for holiday travelers. It's one of the many reasons people tend to gain a couple extra pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's.
The good news is that consumers are demanding more nutritious options when they fly -- and the industry is responding, says Renate DeGeorge, director of culinary services for HMSHost, which operates dining facilities at more than 100 airports worldwide.
In recent years HMSHost has made several changes to their menus, including adding a variety of new salads, offering hummus plates as an appetizer and providing whole-grain bread for sandwiches.
"Most places now offer a variety of healthy options no matter where you stop, so that every traveler can find something they are looking for," DeGeorge wrote in an e-mail.
Here are five ways you can make sure you eat right while flying this holiday season:
Have a plan
You know your departure time, arrival time and the time you'll -- hopefully -- have during a layover. Use that schedule to plan full meals throughout the day.
"A meal in general is typically the same calories as many snacks," says Charles Platkin, founder and editor of DietDetective.com. But if you eat a real meal, "you're actually going to get decent nutrition... and you're going to feel a higher level of being satiated."
For example, if you leave early in the morning, plan to eat breakfast at home. If you'll be on the plane during lunch, decide what you'll eat in the air before you get to the airport. If dinner will be late because your plane lands after 8 p.m., make sure to eat a bigger protein- and fiber-filled lunch to tide you over.
When mapping out your meals, remember to prepare for the possibility that your timing and/or location could be thrown off by a delayed flight or missed connection. Which leads us to our next hint...
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