How to eat healthy on an airplane
One of the main reasons that I have never travelled to Australia, New Zealand or Bali is that the journey of 24+ hours has always intimidated me beyond belief. I love to fly – that’s not the problem – but just about everything else that comes along with a long trip like that has been a huge dread to me. And still is.
Funny enough, as you are reading this post, I officially survived a 14-hour flight between Dubai and Sydney. Not to mention the 6 hours from Vienna to Dubai followed by a 2-hour layover before that. 14 hours in an airplane. Wow! It looks like a lot on the booking confirmation, but when you are actually on the flight, it feels like an eternity. Almost 2 entire working days. Need I say more? The upside: I came prepared.
My three main concerns about the full day of travelling were sleep, deep vein thrombosis and the airplane food. But luckily all 3 problems can be minimized with a bit of research and the proper preparation.
For sleep, I brought some sleeping pills from the pharmacy and a sleeping mask along. To fight off the thrombosis (DVT) I bought special compressing knee-high socks, aspirin to thin the blood and my mom purchased 2 shots from the pharmacy. Which only leaves the airplane food – and that bring’s me to today’s post.
How to eat healthy on an airplane?
Generally speaking, I would not consider myself a picky eater and will give most things a chance. I do, however, care a lot about what I put inside my body. Aside from the fact that airplane food quickly adds up in calories, I simply don’t feel like it is very nourishing. Flying is hard enough on the body as it is and an exhausting trip is exactly when you could use an extra dose of vitamins, healthy fats and fibres. But that is probably the last thing you’ll be served at 36,000 ft altitude.
- Studies have shown that eating a lot of fat and sugar in the air can leave us feeling even worse during the trip.
- Air pressure can cause bloating and stomach pains, which is why it is all the more important to eat things that are easy to digest.
- About one third of our taste buds are numbed due to the altitude and pressure. Ergo: airplane food is often over-salted to make it seem less bland.
Better be safe than sorry.
it’s wiser to be cautious and careful than to be hasty or rash and so do something you may later regret.
In order to keep my diet as “normal” as possible throughout the flight, I decided to do a bit of research ahead of time and planed meals and snacks that I could easily prepare and bring with me on the airplane. So, how to eat healthy on an airplane?
- almonds: my favorite go-to snack with lots of healthy fats, filling fibre and plant protein. I eat almonds almost every day at home, so why should I change anything about that on an airplane?
- apples, pears or bananas: while I am usually an avid berry lover (low sugar, high antioxidant levels), apples, pears and bananas are great for travelling because the fruit itself is so easy to transport and can simply be tossed into a purse. As far as vegetables go, carrots are the best healthy in-flight snack.
- protein bars: these little guys are usually just as good as a small meal. Add a piece of fresh fruit and you’ll be good to go for at least 3-4 hours of binge watching Sex And The City on the in-flight entertainment system. My favorite brands are Roobar (4 to 5 ingredients – superfoods, dried fruits, and nuts), The Primal Pantry (paleo, vegan, gluten-free), Raw Bite or the occasional Cliff bars.
- greek quinoa salad: easy to prepare and even easier to bring. Cook some quinoa, add some chopped cucumber, tomatoes, feta, fresh parsley and season with salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil and lemon juice. I use a mason ball jar to package it for the plane, plus the size makes for a perfect serving size.
- porridge: one of my favorite breakfast options is definitely a healthy porridge. I use a basic porridge that you simply prepare with hot water and by letting it soak for 3-5 minutes. Pack portions of 50gr. in a mason jar, add some hot water, half of that banana you packed and a few almonds for a perfectly healthy breakfast on the plane.
- herbal tea: after meals and before bedtime I love a cup of peppermint tea. It soothes the stomach and promotes healthy digestion. On airplanes, the only hot beverages served are usually black tea or coffee (= no bueno for sleep), so just bring your own tea bags (I brought some herbal detox tea) and ask for a cup with hot water.
- H2O: last but not least is water. Hydrating is one of the most important things during long flights. If a short 3-hour flight allegedly sheds up to 1.5 litres of water from your body, I don’t even want to begin to calculate how much I need to drink on this plane. Stay away from alcohol and caffeine to prevent unnecessary dehydration and make sure to drink a lot. I always purchase a 1-2 big bottles of water after security and force myself to drink at least 200 ml per hour spent on the airplane.