The moment you touch down at McCarran International Airport your senses are overwhelmed by the sites, sounds and smells of Las Vegas. The sights and sounds are provided by lines of slot machines in the terminal, which beg the question, “How big of a gambling problem do you have if you can’t even wait until you get to your hotel?” The smells are of fast food—simple carbs and grease. When hungry, these are some of the most compelling smells in the world. They promise cheap, fast, easy calories. No matter how well we eat, no matter how dedicated we are to our diet, we freely admit that these smells still give us the classic, Pavlovian drool response. And McCarran Airport cranks the volume of this stench higher than anywhere else we have ever been. Some of these smells were so acute that we wondered if the cooking fans were vented directly into the terminal rather than outside as building codes usually require. For this reason, we try to live by the following simple rule:
Rule: Never land hungry.
“Never land hungry” is the first rule of Drink Your Carbs travel. It was also the first rule we violated. We worked out the in morning before our flight and somehow miscalculated how much time it would take to get back home, finish packing and leave for the airport. We made the flight with plenty of time to spare, but we had to skip lunch in order to do so. Ideally, we would have filled one of our carry-on bags with healthy snacks. But this too was thrown aside in the rush. Eating food provided by the airline was out of the question. The calories contained in-flight meals come almost entirely from simple carbohydrates. As we have said before, if you are going to break the rules at least break them for something worthwhile. The best in-flight meals fail to meet even the low standards of a high school cafeteria. It is as though the airlines deliberately hired a team of food scientists to create a TV Dinner knockoff with the taste and texture of two-day-old chewing gum and the caloric density of compressed Twinkies.