Friday, January 21, 2011

Healthy Flying

I returned from my 10 day vacation a little disgusted by others health habits and by the options we offer to our travelers.  Maybe this happens to everyone but I, more than most, am observant of what people eat and drink.  Sitting on planes and in airports gives you time to observe.  What I observed I did not like. Fried,  processed, caffeinated, "low fat" and sugar free seem to have become the key words to describe a travelers diet.  For someone who wants to eat gluten free...FORGET IT.  Your only "in flight" option is peanuts.  Our flight out to Seattle required two long legs, one 5 1/2 hours and the next 3 hours.   During both flights we were offered peanuts, ritz crackers in the shape of planes, lora doone shortbread cookies, pita chips, processed cheese filled ritz crackers, sodas, juice, coffee, tea or a small cup of water.  Can someone please tell me how those options in a 5 1/2 hour sitting can in anyway be a source of nutrition or nourishment for your body?   It doesn't seem like too much for a banana or sunflower seeds to be a valid option on a 5 1/2 hour plane ride and forgoodness sake, can you please give me the WHOLE bottle of water instead of 2 sips.  The people who are on "diets" seem to reach for the "low-fat, low calorie" options or don't eat at all.  Kudos to you...kinda! These are not really great choices either.  PEOPLE-Sugar free does not equal HEALTHY or good for you.  I do love a good fresh cup of coffee in the morning.  What I don't like is smelling burnt coffee beens every 50 feet from coffee kiosks in airports.

And so I have come to the conclusion that next time I travel I will be packing my own snacks and food and I strongly recommend you do the same.  I find there are a couple qualities I would request in travel snacks and I think that your fellow travelers would also appreciate some of these efforts.

1. Stick to the "not-so-smelly" items.  There is nothing worse than sitting on a plane with someone eating a burger or sammie with onions on it or someone who just ate those items and is burping up a storm.  NO matter how much you may like onions...its gross to smell them when you are not the one eating them.
2. Go for non-gassy items.  I would not recommend carbonated drinks OR raw broccoli immediately prior to or during a plane flight. 
3.  No LOUD foods-in-flight.  I like me some chips, but they may be one of the most annoying plane foods EVER.  CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH!  AHHHH! I am not saying you should stick  to "soft foods" I am just saying it would be nice if you saved the carrot sticks for the layover. 

Here are some of my suggestions for good in-flight snack foods and beverages.
  • Raw nuts(unsalted is best)-Pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds,almonds and pecans are all high in Omega 6.  This is essential to good brain function, smooth skin and can improve your eyesight.  Be sure you buy these nuts raw.   The ones you find on most supermarket shelves have been roasted depriving them of there true nutritional value.
  • Fruit Smoothies or fruit in general-Bananas are a great option because they travel well don't make too much of a mess other than having to discard a peel. You can make your own smoothies or it may be the one thing that you can get from Airport snack carts that could be considered healthy, although many do contain loads of sugar.  Fruits are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). All of these are immune building which is great for warding off post flight colds.
  • Sliced "non" processed, non stinky cheeses. Cheese is full of calcium and protein and while I don't advocate cheese ALL of the time, eating a little in flight can provide you with some protein that will fill you up and help for the duration.  A little extra calcium can't hurt!
  • Sliced Apples-this is borderline noisy but I still recommend it, especially if you are one of those people whose "system" becomes "shy" when they get to their destination.  Apples are filled with fiber.
  • Sliced cucumbers. Cucumbers are up to 90% water. These are a wonderful way to hydrate and I rather enjoy the smell of cukes. The also contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and caffeic acid, both of which help soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling.
  • Dark Chocolate-the real kind, 70%  cacao and or higher will give you extra immune building antioxidants and a little sugar and caffeine kick . 
  • Bottled Water-Drinking even a little bit of water is huge on a flight.  Cabins can reach as low as 20% humidity which is why we tend to get chapped lips and dry skin after prolonged flights.  Predrink water and bring some on with you. If you simply can't stand water than bring along some tea or lemon packets to put into your water.
  • Green Tea-I recommend pre-making this and putting it into your reusable beverage container. This is chocked full of vitamins and antioxidants that can help your body fight those post travel germies.

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