Airport food was never a problem for me; I only went to airports about twice a year, my family always brought snacks, and I never had any allergies to worry about when I was younger. But being someone who now doesn't eat dairy — I became intolerant to it in high school — or meat, a lot of airport food is off limits to me.

Although on my way back to school I had come prepared with a well-stocked tote bag full of snacks, when you're stranded in an airport for about twelve hours, you're going to need more than snacks. I thought the worst thing that would happen was security at JFK confiscating my peanut butter (yes, they did that, and I'm still mad about it), but I was wrong.

tea, coffee
Ashleigh Monaco

My flight ended up being cancelled, and while I was stuck there, searching through the airport for food was a struggle. Grab-and-go deli sandwiches and salads always had meat and/or cheese in them; I couldn't get yogurts and even veggie cups were often packed with ranch dip.

I had to go through three different kiosks just to find a cup of carrots and raw broccoli (I don't even like raw broccoli) with hummus.

Ashleigh Monaco

It shocked me how difficult it was, in an airport as large as O'Hare, to find something I could (and wanted to) eat. I ended up paying $7.00 for a small container of pineapple at a kiosk, only to learn it was only $4.00 for pineapple at Au Bon Pain.

But still... $4.00?? For pineapple?? Yet if I had gone to McDonald's, I could get a full meal for that same amount of money.

Even my breakfast had been $11.00, but at the time, a warm meal was more important to me than price — and my mom had transferred money into my account. Thanks, mom.

chocolate, cake
Ashleigh Monaco

It'd probably be easier to overlook the ridiculous prices of airport food when you're only in an airport for a few hours at the most. Even if you do get stranded, like I did, you might not have the same food limitations I do — but try being stuck there overnight with serious dietary restrictions.

I was fortunate enough to find at least two places that had meatless and dairy-free options, but it wasn't as easy as it would have been if I had been looking for a ham and cheese salad, a bagel with cream cheese, or even a slice of pizza.

peanut, peanut butter
Ashleigh Monaco

Airport food has, thankfully, begun to take a big step in a healthy direction over the last few years. I was happy to find a kiosk that sold small packets of Justin's peanut butter and single-serving cups of Purely Elizabeth cereal (my favorite cereal) that I could eat as a great snack.

Even though the fruit available might be ridiculously overpriced, having fruit and salads available at kiosks and airport restaurants is better than only having fast food available. There are also healthier snacks such as unsalted trail mixes, dried fruit, and healthy snack bars.

In fact, airports have even jumped on the recent wellness trends. Some airports have meditation rooms, yoga studios, and massage centers for passengers to have a stress-free layover.

Ashleigh Monaco

I definitely paid a lot more for the food I ate than I would have if I got something at Dunkin' Donuts. The fact that I paid more for a small container of fruit than I would have for an entire meal at a fast food joint is just ridiculous.

It could be that maybe I didn't try hard enough to find something, or maybe other terminals would have suited me better. Either way, I had to worry about food more than I should have — and when your main priority is getting where you need to be, you shouldn't have to worry about what you can eat. Finding food to match my preferences and my dietary restrictions was shockingly more difficult than I thought it'd be.

Even though I did find some stuff, my only wish was that I wasn't so limited. Hopefully, over my next four years of traveling to and from school, airports will better be able to cater to diets like mine. If we can all practice yoga during over layovers, we can get some healthy meatless meals too, right?