Whether you're dashing to make a flight or stranded at the gate for hours, start your trip off right by avoiding these super unhealthy choices for airport food and drink.
Crispy Green Beans, P.F. Chang's China Bistro
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport consistently places last in rankings of airports with the healthiest food options, and its new P.F. Chang's certainly isn't going to help. Got time for a sit-down meal and think that the Crispy Green Beans sound like a healthy choice? (They're a vegetable and they're green -- what could go wrong?) Think again. One order without sauce contains 895 calories; the sauce adds an extra 310 calories in just two ounces of liquid. What are they doing to those poor green beans?
Caramel Pecanbon, Cinnabon
Cinnabon stores have become almost as ubiquitous in airports as they are in shopping malls -- no wonder, as airports have thousands of captive flyers, typically with low willpower, to tempt with that Cinnabon smell. If you want to guarantee that you'll arrive at your destination with your pants a little tighter, be sure to order the Caramel Pecanbon, which packs a whopping 1,080 calories and 50 grams of fat into one bun. To really do some dietary damage, wash that Pecanbon down with a 24-ounce Strawberry Banana Chillatta, which adds 680 calories and 139 grams of sugar to your snack -- giving you a total of 215 grams of sugar and an epic sugar high at 35,000 feet.
Chow Mein, Panda Express
Sodium can be bloat inducing on the ground, and it can be even worse in the air due to the changes in pressure. To keep "jet bloat" to a minimum, avoid eating salty foods before flying -- which means you'll really want to pass on the Chow Mein at Panda Express. This dish contains 1,060 mg of sodium -- that's about 70 percent of the CDC-recommended amount for one whole day!
Large Dr Pepper, McDonald's
Speaking of the dreaded "jet bloat," Dr Pepper packs a double whammy: Not only is it carbonated, but the jumbo-jet-sized 30-ounce Dr Pepper sold at McDonald's also contains a sneaky 90 mg of sodium, which doesn't seem very thirst quenching! Plus, you'll be sucking down 70 grams of sugar with that soda, which will keep you nice and jittery while stuck in the middle seat.
Jersey Dog, Smashburger
If you're dining at Newark Liberty International Airport, you may think you're in the clear no matter where you eat. After all, it was named the healthiest airport by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in a review of some of America's busiest airports. But you'll want to steer clear of Smashburger and, in particular, the chain's Jersey Dog, which is a triple offender on our list of foods you should never eat before flying. It has excessive sodium (1,650 mg), has tons of fat (including 20 grams of saturated fat), and is topped with stinky sauerkraut and onions to make your seatmates miserable.
Sugar-Free Drinks, Starbucks
You want to be skinny on your vacation, so you order something sugar-free from Starbucks before takeoff. Unfortunately, Starbucks uses the artificial sweetener sucralose in many of its sugar-free beverages. For some unlucky flyers, this choice may turn out badly, as sucralose can cause bloating and gas for people who don't process artificial sweeteners very well -- and this will only be intensified in the air.
Fettuccini Alfredo, Sbarro
Feeling virtuous because you passed up that greasy pizza in favor of a pasta dish at Sbarro? You'll be shocked to learn what's lurking in that plate of Fettuccini Alfredo: The dish of carbs covered in cream sauce contains 2,940 calories (1,030 of which are from fat), 60 grams of saturated fat, 350 mg of cholesterol, and 4,160 mg of sodium. That's not going to sit so well during your flight!
Double Chocolate Chunk Muffin, Au Bon Pain
When you need a morning meal on the fly, a muffin can seem like a healthier choice than a bagel or breakfast sandwich. But looks can be deceiving. Take the Double Chocolate Chunk Muffin from Au Bon Pain, which has 580 calories (220 from fat), 86 grams of carbohydrates, and 49 grams of sugar. You'd be better off with a plain bagel (280 calories, 57 grams of carbohydrates, and only 4 grams of sugar) or even the Egg on a Bagel sandwich (430 calories) if you're counting calories.
Cheese Danish, Starbucks
Eating saturated fat can constrict blood flow, which can put flyers at an even higher risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Watch out for sneaky saturated-fat sources at the airport: Starbuck's Cheese Danish has 16 grams of saturated fat -- more than an entire Pepperoni Lover's Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut!
Volcano Nachos, Taco Bell
Stress can cause heartburn, so if you're a nervous flyer or worried about delays, you're already at risk for acid reflux. Don't make it worse by ordering Taco Bell's Volcano Nachos. Not only will the spicy "cheesy molten hot lava sauce" and jalapenos contribute to your heartburn, the nachos are also topped with beans, whose famous gas-causing effect only gets worse in the sky. The dish's 990 calories, 59 grams of fat, and 1,840 mg of sodium certainly won't do you any nutritional favors either.
--By Caroline Morse
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