12/27/2010 08:06 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Avoiding Airport and Airline Food

A lot of us are traveling this week, and as someone who's very sensitive to refined junk foods, I have a tough time eating when I fly. I know I'm not the only one who nearly passes out from hunger because I'm not willing to eat at the myriad fast food joints that have filled our country's airports, or worse, eat the food on the plane itself. Honestly, if my choices are unsavory airline food or starvation, I'd probably starve. The ensuing digestive WWIII just isn't worth it.

These days I plan for my trips. With airport security being what it is, you're limited in what foods you can take through the gate: no hummus, no soup, and no homemade smoothies. I won't go into the politics behind the circus that is the TSA organization (suffice it to say that the terms "paranoid," "obtuse," and "waste of funding" come to mind), but I've learned to work within the system to feed myself healthy things that won't hurt my body or cause me to feel gross for the rest of my trip.

What foods can you take on a plane that won't compromise your health or have the Machiavellian gate guards in hysterics? Here's a list of options:

  • A homemade burrito with freshly cooked beans
  • Lara Bars
  • Mixed nuts (raw and organic where possible)
  • Green salad in a bag with a little dressing
  • Dried fruit, such as cranberries
  • Onigiri
  • Avocado sushi rolls
  • Spring rolls
  • Organic corn chips
  • Cooked chicken breasts
  • Chamomile or green tea bags
  • Green food powder (kinda crunchy hippy-esque, but handy for nutrients in a pinch)

They key is to reduce your garbage intake by as much as possible without actually passing out on the plane. If you make sure you've got a good amount of non-crap snacks on you, you'll be less tempted by the $8 deep-fried chicken tacos smothered in ranch dressing. Ugh.

If I have to cave and buy something at the airport, I try to make it as healthy as possible. A McDonald's green salad is better than a burger, and an Odwalla smoothie is better than a vanilla shake. And please, for the love of god, do your body a favor and avoid airline meals at all costs.