I travel a lot for business and, well, it can take a real toll on your well-being. Nutrition, especially, can be a real challenge. I find that flying is the worst, because if you are anything like me, and you take several hour flights, you have to eat. If you don’t get on the flight prepared, you can be forced to do the dirty deed of eating poorly, sabotaging all of your good intentions. What is worse, if you fly often, your repetitive patterns of eating poorly will eventually catch up with you.
Below are some general tips on how to avoid the pitfalls of air travel and poor eating:
Do Your Research: Many airlines will post their in-flight meal options online. Prior to your flight, visit the airline’s Web site and check out what your options are. Do a quick nutritional analysis to help you pre-determine what is most nutritious and what will be healthiest for you. When on board, stick with that pre-determined choice to make sure you stay on track.
Buy Before You Fly: Over the last couple of years and with the recent cut backs on airlines, airports are providing travelers with better eating options in the airport. Moreover, they are providing grab and go stations with some decent eats. Many airports have restaurants and cafes from which you can take out food. Get to the airport a bit early and find a venue that offers some healthier fare. Purchase a meal and bring it on the airplane with you.
Brown-Bagging It: When you cook or make your own food, you are always better off. As a result, packing a meal at home and bringing it for the trip is also an option. Be aware, however, that liquids (including yogurt or sauces) over 3 ounces are not to be brought through security due to recent security regulations. So only pack solid foods and buy any liquid type food (drinks, yogurts, sauces, etc.) after you pass through security.
Ward off the Hunger: If you are fortunate enough to have a short flight, there might not be any meal option. Try to eat a decent meal before the flight so that you don’t feel hungry in the air.
Come Prepared: Any time I fly, especially on long flights, I bring a couple of nutritional bars that are well balanced (protein, fat, and carbs in one) and can act as a light meal replacement. Personally, I am a fan of Odwalla’s protein bar, Kashi Go Lean Roll bars, Balance Bare bars and Luna bars. Some tend to be a bit high in saturated fat, so choose wisely.
Think Outside of the Box: Many airlines have “snack boxes” that you can buy in their in-flight cafe. Unfortunately, they are not very healthy and tend to have a lot of items in them that are high in fat and simple carbohydrates (sugars and bleached flour). That said, some airlines offer a few types (United Airlines), with one being a more healthy option. I emphasize “more” because they still have items that aren’t the most healthful; however, they are better than the other options.
Nuts, Pretzels, and More: On shorter flights, you are often offered some sort of “snack” with your drink. This can be anything from peanuts to cookies to some sort of mystery snack mix. Again, more often than not, these are not the healthiest options. Try to say “no” to these and bring a healthy snack of your own.
So next time you fly, be prepared! If you have any great tricks of your own, please share with us.