Don't Let Airlines Sabotage Your Waistline
There was a time when airlines used food as a way to set themselves apart from their competitors. Alaska Airlines in the 1980s ran a very funny TV commercial showing a "typical" airline purchasing agent going over several low-cost meal options.
There was the incredibly tiny burger called "banquet on a bun," the oil barrel full of "pate in a drum," and even "plastic parsley you can use... over and over again." The clueless agent sat at his desk and repeated, "I like it," to every outrageous cost-saving idea.
Of course, Alaska Airlines was different, and they pointed out how they spent "a little more" on their food while showing a stuffed tomato, lobster, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy.
My how things have changed.
Today there are very few flights that offer meals. To save money on many flights, the only foods available are cookies, chips and other unhealthy snacks that you have to pay extra for. You read that right. The snacks that used to be free, very often you now have to pay for. And forget about something healthy; most airlines really don't care. (If they did, they'd offer more nutritious options.)
Avoid all the sugar, fat and salt. If you take just a little time beforehand, you won't have to settle for the airline's limited choices.
Start by contacting the airline or visiting their website and see if your flight has any food or beverage service. Make sure to check the time of day you're flying. Some airlines don't offer meals, even on long flights, unless you're in the air during a specific mealtime window.
If meal or snack service is offered, look for things like fresh fruit or salads with the dressings served separately. On breakfast flights frequently, you can get a whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk. Avoid the bagel with cream cheese and skip the omelets; they're both loaded with empty calories.
A better option is to pack a meal ahead of time.
Make a peanut butter and sugar-free jelly sandwich on multi-grain bread. Turkey or tuna fish tastes great when it's kept in a chilled carrying case. Sliced vegetables, fresh fruit, raw unsalted nuts, low-fat granola and protein bars all travel well. Hard-boiled eggs are good as long as you ditch the yolk. Low sodium and multi-grain pretzels or crackers can help you fight cravings when they're passing out the snacks.
You can even pack an insulated plastic cup and spoon with some low sugar instant oatmeal packets. When the flight attendants come around offering hot water for tea, have them pour it over your oatmeal. Make it a real treat by mixing in some chocolate protein powder and it tastes like a dessert.
You will have to avoid bringing liquid protein shakes with you. Because of the restrictions on fluids, you'll be forced to leave them behind at security. Also, don't chill anything with gel packs; they aren't allowed through either. Freezer bags of ice are good alternatives because you can toss them out before you go through the screening.
If you can't pack ahead of time, there may be some things you can pick up at the airport before you start boarding. Fresh fruit is always a winner. Beef jerky, even though it's higher in sodium, can provide some significant protein. Sandwiches are available in many airports; just ditch the cheese and mayo. Avoid the sandwich wraps. To keep them moist, many companies load them down with fattening sauces.
Remember to drink lots of water. Humidity is lower on a plane than most homes, so it's easy to get dehydrated.
Finally, bring things with you to keep yourself occupied. One of the reasons people eat while flying is out of boredom. If you're reading a book, playing a game or watching a movie, you're less likely to feel tempted by the cookies they're selling.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.