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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fussy with food when flying?

For anyone who travels long haul regularly, even upper class would be aware of how inappropriate airline food tends to be. Not only is it obviously high processed and contains a number of preservatives to keep it fresh, nutritionally it tends to also be high in fat, low in protein and high energy considering you are going to basically be sitting for anywhere between 12-36 hours.

While it may seem slightly pedantic to worry about what equates to just 2-3 meals over a 24 hour period, the truth is that what we do or do not eat and drink on flights is going to really effect how we feel once we reach our destination. Imagine if you could ward off constipation, insomnia and jet lag simply by planning your trip from a food and drink perspective slightly better?

First of all, for any long haul flight, your preparation should begin 2-3 days in advance. From this time avoid heavy rice, pasta, fried and meat dishes as these foods will spend more time in your gut. Swap to light soups and salads so your system is hydrated and cleared out (for want of a better phrase!). The day of the flight, aim for fruit and liquids as these too will stay in the gut for short periods of time, and help to prevent flight related dehydration and constipation. Ideally you should be avoiding alcohol and cola drinks, which will also dehydrate you.

For the flight, try and stick to light choices from your meal plate such as fruit, salad, the vegetables, cheese and crackers and avoid any bread, creamy sauced mixed meals and high fat ice creams and pastries – you are burning so few calories not moving that weight gain is inevitable if you eat everything on offer and it will not move from your gut for at least another 12 hours. Finally, this all means that you need to board a plane prepared. Airline good quality will only decrease over time so get used to packing your own wraps, protein bars, fruit, mini snack chocolates and cheese and crackers so you always have back ups – because remember, that planning is the key to dietary success.