5 Foods to Avoid in the Airport Lounge

The tempting treats business travellers should steer clear of in the airport lounge buffet line—and how to make better choices

Written by Theresa Albert

The best thing about business lounges at airports is the free food. Indulging is only natural when the buffet is open—and why wouldn’t you have anything you want?

Here’s why: the first meal you eat in the day (whatever time of day that is for you) is critical, especially for people who are working shifts, managing time zones or are under stress.

What you eat first after a fast sets your blood sugar level for the entire time you’re awake. Make a misstep and you send your insulin level upward. When the insulin has moved enough fuel from your bloodstream into your cells, it then stores all remaining calories as fat. Creating this situation over and over again makes it virtually impossible to manage your weight. It will also make it hard to pay attention in a critical meeting later that day when your blood-sugar levels plummet and you crash.

I just flew out of Pearson and watched as people ate all the wrong foods for breakfast, killing themselves for free.

The 5 worst offenders on the buffet table are:

The danish. If you fly more than twice a month, let’s just agree that the Danish or cinnamon roll is not a “treat;” it’s a lifestyle. Even the tiniest, two-bite version contains more sugar than you need in a day, up to two tablespoons of bad fats plus white flour that will only set you up for a fall. Don’t waste your treat here, save it for your glass of wine at the end of the day that may actually do you some good.

Anything with white flour. This includes a lot of the “whole wheat” and multigrain options. Very few of the breads available in the lounge are actually whole grain. Avoid them altogether and go for the good stuff elsewhere.

Cereal. Not one on the market is low enough in sugar and high enough in fibre to go it alone. Check the package next time you’re in a grocery store. You want 10 grams of fibre and 10 grams of protein per 1 1/2 cup serving to make sure you hit your target by the end of the day. If your brand isn’t quite there, add plain Greek yogurt instead of milk. And remember, there is nothing sadder than watching a grown up eat Froot Loops.

Juice of any kind will spike your blood sugar. These beverages are not health food. Even if they do give you “a full day’s worth of vitamin C,” you’re missing the other nutrients and fibre contained in a piece of fruit. These slow down the sugar absorption, avoiding a spike.

Cream and sugar in your coffee. Three cups a day time at 35 calories per cup equals 38,000 calories a year, which can represent 11 pounds. You could lose weight just making this change—so get used to espresso.

Here are five foods on the freebie buffet that will serve you well:

Boiled eggs won’t spike your blood sugar and will feed your brain.

Oatmeal with milk and nuts (or peanut butter) will lower your cholesterol and keep you full until lunch.

Espresso (no sugar). Caffeine has been shown to protect you from everything from liver disease to Parkinson’s.

Smoothie (all fruit, no sugar added, made with yogurt). The phytonutrients and fibre in the fruit, plus probiotic in the yogurt, will keep you regular But remember, a beer-sized mug of the stuff can serve up to 1/4 of your day’s worth of calories.

Whole fresh fruit, as long as the skin is on. Anything chopped or in salad has lost most of its nutrients.

Theresa Albert is private nutritionist who practices like no other in Toronto: she comes to you and creates systems in your life that work. In addition to being a media commentator on CTV Newschannel, CBC and Global she has two books published in Canada and the U.S.: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day and Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck

More columns from Theresa Albert

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