Healthier Picks for In-Flight Airplane Food

By: Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D.  |  Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Staying healthy while you're flying can be challenging (especially if you're stuck in the air during mealtime).
Luckily, it's getting easier, as more airports are carrying healthy snacks like plain yogurt, nuts and dried fruit. With a little advance planning, you can pack your own healthy snacks-but that's not always an option.
To help you make healthy choices at 30,000 feet, we scoured airline menus for nutritious airplane food that would fight off mid-flight hunger pangs. And although airplane food has a bad reputation, we were pleasantly surprised to find airlines carrying healthy in-flight eating options.
Our menu picks include a balance of healthy proteins and some healthy fats, both of which keep you from getting hungry better than sugar and other refined carbs. We also looked for dishes with whole grains, fruits and vegetables-which are high in fiber to keep your stomach satisfied.
Here's a list of our top healthy meals and snacks from different airlines as originally reported by Katie Cavuto, M.S., R.D., for EatingWell magazine, plus tips for when you've got time at the airport and a recipe for when you have time to pack food at home.
United: A protein-packed egg, heart-healthy almond butter and fresh fruit are included in its "Morning Energy Selection" (pictured).
Calories: 345, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 16g.
American/U.S. Airways: Their hummus & multigrain pita chips snack is satisfying thanks to the protein- and fiber-rich hummus.
Calories: 230, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 8g.
Delta: Looking for a hearty meal around 500 calories? Get the Luvo grilled chicken wrap, which includes avocado and veggies, plus a chocolate chip cookie on the side.
Calories: 530, Fiber: 7g, Protein: 17g.
Jet Blue: Get your "superfoods" at 30,000 feet with a kale salad topped with quinoa and berries.
Calories: 320, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 5g.
DIY Snack Pack: Make your own "jet fuel" by combining protein, healthy fats and fiber-rich carbohydrates for a hearty snack or mini-meal with staying power. Pack 1 pear with travel-friendly Babybel cheese, 5 whole-grain crackers and 1 cup cucumber slices.
Calories: 285, Fiber: 8g, Protein: 9g.
Healthier Airport Eats: If you have time before boarding you can try to track down a healthy meal in the airport. In some airports, you'll be lucky enough to find a food court with a salad bar (learn how to build a healthy salad here), and lots of chains are now displaying calorie counts to help you make more informed decisions. Try to pick a meal with a good amount of vegetables, some protein and whole grains. You can always grab snacks to bring on the plane with you. Some of our favorite healthy on-the-go snack picks: nuts, dried or fresh fruit, plain yogurt and beef jerky.
Photo courtesy of United Airlines