With little time and a limited selection, eating at the airport can often involve an overpriced sandwich or hodgepodge of snacks from the magazine stand. All of which leave you feeling sluggish, tired and bloated.

When it comes to making smart decisions “on the fly,” stick to these three main rules: eat before you travel, pack a few go-to foods and buy (or bring) a big bottle of water.

Fill your snack bag
When candy and fast food are so close and convenient, it takes a little extra effort to maintain healthy habits. Plenty of snacks or “mini-meals” will help maintain blood sugar and energy levels, and keep you feeling satisfied from security to touchdown. Pack snacks like nuts, packs of peanut butter crackers or granola bars, turkey jerky or fresh fruit to limit the amount of food you need to buy at the airport and/or on the plane.

If a rushed morning or bare fridge left you with an empty snack bag, look for protein-filled snacks (e.g., Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, protein bars) from any food kiosk. Starbucks’ bistro boxes also are a great go-to and pack at least 10 grams of protein. If you’re in a fancy-schmancy airport terminal, look for gourmet food stands that are usually stocked with snacks like individual portions of hummus, natural peanut butter, popcorn and olives.

Choose the right meal
If you have time for a sit-down meal, look for one with moderate amounts of lean protein, carbohydrates and fiber. Cooking Light magazine compiled a list of healthy airport eats. Vegetarian menus are usually a good choice, as plant-based foods high in fiber help increase blood flow for those long periods of sitting. Just steer clear of stir-fried and sautéed veggies, which can be just as bad as fatty meats. Another rule of thumb: avoid salty foods that only exacerbate swelling during a flight (ahem, French fries).

Even if you’re celebrating the start of vacation, try to avoid alcohol at the airport. Aside from being a lot of empty calories, alcohol can dehydrate you and exaggerate jetlag. Save the bubbly for landing and drink about eight ounces of water every hour you’re in the air. Oh, and choose an aisle seat.

If you need help maintaining your healthy choices after the airport, check out our blog post on staying healthy on the road.

Do you have a favorite airport restaurant or go-to snack for travel? We’d love to hear from you on our Facebook page.