Let me just tell you that the hardest part about eating low carb while traveling is committing to it. It’s so much easier to get sucked into the pastries and fruit and carby snacks that own most of the shelves at the airport. But eating low carb at the airport and while traveling is 100% doable.
**A small note about low-carb foods: you need to take insulin for net carbs only. Fiber is not processed as carbohydrates, so you subtract the fiber from the total carbs. Sugar alcohols are also not processed like normal carbs. Depending on the person and the type of sugar alcohol, dosing for half of the carbs from sugar alcohol will work well. (So for example, if you have something with 20 g Total carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, and 8 g sugar alcohols, that would be 20-5 = 15 carbs, then 15-4 = 11 carbs. So even though it says 20 total carbohydrates, with fiber and sugar alcohols, you need insulin for 11 carbs). Everyone is different too. For some types of sugar alcohols, I don’t need any insulin. You can read more about calculating net carbs here, and more about what it all means here.
I usually try to eat a protein rich meal, like eggs, before going to the airport. This will stave off some of the hungry impulse purchases.
I’m a big proponent of DIY snacks and bringing food while traveling, and you will have way more options than what is available at the airport. Some great snacks to bring are:
- trail mix-my favorite low carb one is a brand called Hunter mix, and their southern style is spicy with only 6 net carbs for 1/4 cup (they sell it at Walmart, and it’s cheaper than Amazon)
- protein bars-if you can tolerate sugar alcohols, there are a lot of options, including Quest and Thinkthin
- jerky-Costco sells big bags, Krave is an awesome brand that has fancy flavors
- Pro tip: take your jerky out or make sure it’s in its own pocket when you go through security. I dunno if it’s the packaging or the jerky itself, but we have been stopped several times through security for our jerky!
- tuna packets-I’m partial to the spicy thai chili flavor
- low carb granola-you can make your own ahead of time, or get some from a brand like HiFibar
- popcorn–Skinny pop makes a plain and a white cheddar and has always been good to my blood sugars, despite having 9 carbs per serving
- protein chips–Rebell!on makes a yummy BBQ chip that is plant based and so tasty–try these before you go, because I have to give extra insulin for the protein. They sell them at Costco right now.
- olives-my grocery store has an antipasta bar with fancy olives, garlic, etc. Make sure you seal them well, so they don’t spill. That might have happened to me once and it might have sucked.
- peanut butter or almond butter-they sell them in travel sized pouches and containers
- Fat snax cookies-these low carb cookies are so so good
Here’s a few more things you can take that are cold, as long as you plan to eat them shortly after getting to the airport:
- hard boiled eggs
- yogurt-since it’s a liquid, they have to test it, so bring in a Tupperware, or get one that can be opened and closed
- cottage cheese
- low carb bread or bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter-The Great Low Carb bread company makes some low carb breads that actually taste like bread! I’ve taken an everything bagel with chive and onion cream cheese and eaten it with my coffee on the plane.
- **These products have a lot of fiber, so try it before going on your trip, so you don’t end up in a poopy situation!
- veggies-I’ve taken carrots, cut up bell peppers and cucumbers to snack on on the flight. You can even do individual packaged ranch or hummus if you like to dip
- cheese and lunch meat-always a classic
But sometimes, you just don’t have time to plan ahead and make a gourmet airport snack meal at home. There’s definitely a lot you can get a the airport:
- protein plates-most Starbucks and coffee shops have a little section with wraps and sandwiches. Almost everywhere I’ve been, they have a protein plate option. It usually has a hard boiled egg, some cheese and maybe fruit or veggies.
- breakfast sandwich-you can order a breakfast sandwich anywhere without the bread, or just toss the bread part
- salad-most airport convenient marks have several options for ready to go salads that you can purchase and take on the plane
- yogurt/cottage cheese-a lot of the grab-and-go convenient marts also have yogurts and sometimes cottage cheese. If you choose yogurt, go for the prepackaged ones, and skip the fancy fruit, granola parfait. Those bad boys have like 50 carbs.
- fish, chicken or beef meal-if you have a long layover or need to have a real meal, you will find no shortage of low-carb options. Any decent restaurant will have a grilled chicken, or fish or steak option. Opt for a salad or veggies instead of fries and you’re in business.
- Pro tip: unless you have expert level self control, ask for a substitution or just say no to the fries. Many a time I’ve said, eh, I just won’t eat the fries. Then one fry leads to all the fries and there goes my low-carb lunch.
- snacks-this is where it’s usually best to plan ahead, but sometimes you can find some low carb snacks at the airport. I’ve seen jerky, beef sticks, popcorn, cheese wisp crackers. The airline snacks are never almost never low carb. They’re usually pretzels, honey peanuts or some other snacky thing. I usually accept them and put them in my bag in case I need a few carbs for a low blood sugar. But if you have average or below average self control, just say no thank you. 🙂
A note on drinks
If you love having drinks at the airport to loosen up before flying, you definitely have lower carb options. Mimosas are my absolute fav, but there’s a lot of extra sugar from the orange juice. I always ask for just a splash, or just go for the champagne. On our last trip I brought one of those drink flavoring liquid drops in orange flavor, added it to a glass of champagne and it was perfect. I felt a little silly, but instead of 15 carbs, my mimosa had 7!
Light beer is a good option, but does have a few carbs. I give insulin for anywhere between 4-10 carbs per beer depending on the type. Mr. Google is always there to help you. Or there’s the always classic vodka soda, or anything with diet soda.
I am a big believer in low carb eating! I definitely don’t do it all of the time. (I had french toast sticks for breakfast yesterday. Shhhh…) But I have noticed a big difference in how I feel when I am traveling if I eat low carb. I can manage my sugars better and not feel like crap from spiking, and not have to stop in the middle of the airport to rest for a low blood sugar. You definitely have options for low carb. Like I said, the biggest thing is committing to it. It’s much easier to pass that counter of muffins and bananas if you are set on your low carb plan for the day. 🙂
As always, wishing you happy travels and good blood sugars,