Even though air travel might be one of the coolest inventions ever, it’s not without its problems. Cancelled flights and the endless waiting in line aside, let’s talk about airport food. If you’re trying to stick to a healthy diet or you simply don’t want to pay the insane airport markup, it’s not exactly convenient. Here are 5 hacks that will allow you to eat healthy when flying.
We won’t blame you if flying equals sugar-loaded snack and fast food restaurants to you. That’s what a lot of people accept as the unavoidable reality. But the 90s are long gone, we have options now. You should by all means have the intention of eating delicious, healthy food.
#1 Eat a good meal before
Science pretty much confirms that sleep deprivation makes bad choices seem less bad (1). Add intense hunger on top of that and you just created the perfect storm for overeating junk food. Arriving to the airport well-fed will allow you to avoid food on shorter flights and help battle jet lag and make better diet decisions when you land after the long ones.
So, before you leave for the airport, make sure you eat a proper meal, something full of protein, healthy fats, slow carbs, vitamins, and minerals. A great example of such a meal would be this Butternut squash & sage beef stew, recipe by Juli from paleOMG.
If you want to avoid airport food altogether, you need the right kind of snack. You need something easily portable, something that goes through security, and of course something nutritious that will keep you full for a long time. The most satiating nutrients are protein and fibre (2), make sure it is full of those. On the other hand carbs, sugar especially, cause you to feel hungry quite quickly. The right snack considering these rules could be a tuna salad for example - tuna for the protein, veggies for the fibre, and dressing for some healthy fats and flavour. To save space and weight, pack the fish and vegetables into a Ziploc bag rather than a lunch box. You can also put olive oil and balsamic vinegar into those tiny hotel room shampoo bottles.
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As mentioned above, good sleep is essential if you want to feel human after a long flight. One thing that will help you achieve that is refusing the “free” in-flight meal. Tell the person next to you or the attendant that you don't want to be woken up and you have a higher chance of getting some continuous sleep. Yet another reason to bring a quality snack that will stand in for the lost meal.
If you don’t have time or it doesn’t feel like a salad day, our bars also fulfil all of the mentioned nutritional requirements for a useful snack.
Try our low-carb protein bars made with pure ingredients only!
#4 Stay away from the duty free shops
Even though common sense would suggest that anything sold in a duty free shop should be a bargain since the seller doesn’t have to pay VAT, the reality is very different. There are vast differences in prices between airports all over the world. If you do want to make a purchase there, you should check out this price comparison. For example a 1L bottle of Martini Bianco is a staggering 51% cheaper in Berlin airport than in Amsterdam airport. Also note that these shops specialize in selling you stuff you don’t really need and generally isn’t very healthy for you.
#5 Carry an empty water bottle
The usual humidity in the air around us is about 40 to 70 %, in an aircraft it falls to about 20 %. That’s a big reason why you shouldn’t underestimate hydration. To stay properly hydrated even in the 3 euro for a drink environment, it’s good to bring your own empty water bottle. Just fill it when you get past security and you’re set, and for free. As a pleasant side effect, you will also reduce waste from single use plastic bottles. Check out this foldable, lightweight, BPA free water bottle, it can keep you company for a long time!
If you want to take something else than water on board then you can freeze it before as frozen liquids are ok when coming through security.
1) Paula Alhola and Päivi Polo-Kantola, 'Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance', 2007, Neuropsychiatr Disease and Treatment, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/
2) Holt SH et al., 'A satiety index of common foods', 1995, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7498104