Navigating nutrition with a busy travel schedule presents challenges. Have you ever arrived at an airport with a plan to get a bite to eat only to find that the restaurants are closed? Or maybe you are so short on time that you have to grab something quick before your next flight. Incorporating a few simple airport nutrition strategies into your travel plan can alleviate the ‘What can I eat?’ dilemma before the hunger pangs strike. Taking a few moments to map out your nutrition survival plan before your trip saves you time and reduces stress.
Consider these Five Simple Nutrition Friendly Travel Tips for when you fly the friendly skies:
1. Know your options- Look up the airports you will be at prior to your trip and note what dining options are available. Be aware of schedule changes that may affect your layover time. What options are there for grab-and-go if you are pushed for time? If fast food is your only choice, ask yourself the question, “What nutrient dense food items are available?” If you have time for sit down or restaurant dining, select menu choices with the best nutrition value. Once at the airport, assess your options and choose the best way to nourish your body. Browse online guides such as Eater for useful info and tips.
2. Pack some snacks.-This is foundational for airport nutrition survival. Include 4-6 easy to take with you items that you can include in your carry-on luggage (remember security friendly foods–no liquids or gels). No refrigeration required. Think natural, unprocessed nutrition packed foods:
- Granola Bars or Food Bars
(find items that are balanced in Protein, Carbohydrate and Fats)
- Easy to pack whole fruits (apples, oranges, grapes or bananas which require some TLC)
- Nuts, Seeds or Trail Mix
- Dried Fruit
- Oatmeal Packets
- Whole Grain Crackers or Baked Chips
- Jerky (vegan options available also)
- Protein or Meal Replacement Powders
3. Eat to boost energy- Choose to feed your body every 3-4 hours with a nutritious meal or snack. Plan to eat fairly light meals. Avoid heavy, or hard to digest foods. Limit intake of very high fat or fried foods. Skip the energy zappers (excess caffeine, soda, high sugar beverages and energy drinks). These items can leave you feeling drained once the energy boost fades away. Choose to hydrate your body with water. Be aware that air travel is dehydrating in nature and you need to replenish your body with at least 8 ounces of water for each hour of air travel. It is very important first thing in the morning or on awakening to rehydrate your body with at least 8 ounces of fresh pure water.
4. Utensils are important- How many times have you seen someone bring a “to go” salad, or entree onto the aircraft and there isn’t a fork or a spoon? Most planes only have stir straws available unless you have purchased a meal during the flight. The galleys are not typically stocked with forks for random food emergencies. While a creative person can fashion a makeshift fork with several stir straws, it is somewhat challenging. When you are at the food court or restaurant, just grab a couple extra utensil packets and throw them in your bag. You never know when you might need them. A cool utensil is a re-usable bamboo spark: spoon and fork combined.
5. Scout out grocery store options- Once you arrive at your destination, be sure to in the vicinity of your hotel. Also choose a hotel that has a refrigerator and microwave available for their guests. You can find some delicious and nutritious food items in the deli or frozen foods section of the local grocery.
Enjoy your nutrition journey. It is worth the investment of your time and money. You have one body, so take care of it.
Keep updated via The Flight Attendant Life Facebook page for updates about the happenings with the inflightdietitian.com. Look forward to meal plans for flight crews and frequent travelers, as well as many other resources to help all the travel junkies make healthy choices.