On the 2 February 2017, I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket to Shanghai. with regards to nutrition, I planned my meals from the time I woke up on that day, until what I would eat for the following 2-3 days after my arrival. If there’s one thing about me, I am very organised! I like to know what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, especially when I have to travel and I’m away from my normal routine of preparing my meals at home. The main thing that I needed to consider when preparing my meals was the 15-hour flying time and how the food was going to stay fresh. I knew that I wanted to eat some of my favourite meals for the last time, both on the plane and when I arrived in Shanghai. What I didn’t consider until my mum mentioned it to me, was checking with the airline to see if I could take my own food aboard the plane. I’ve never had a problem carrying my own food on the plane before and I’ve travelled to quite a few countries. Now, there was a little confusion with the airline I used; At first, they said that I couldn’t take my own food on the plane and then when I arrived at the departure gate they said it was okay?! Which was really annoying.
So do check with your airline ! if they say no like they did to me, then you could always pack some food and put it in your main suitcase, in a strong Tupperware container if you have the space. And providing it doesn’t take you over your weight allowance. This will really depend on your circumstances.
So, after my luggage drama at the airport, which I won’t get into, I had to revisit my nutrition plan. Firstly let me add that I did book a vegan meal on the plane as I know they always give you fruit, and I thought that it might come in handy to take with me when I had a stop-over in Mumbai India.
So, what did I have and what would I recommend?!
I’m sure that there are lots of people who think about the food they’re going to eat whilst travelling and I can vouch for anyone who is an athlete, both competing or off-season and those individuals like Moi, who have specific nutritional needs, these two groups of people are definitely going to be planning, food-prepping and managing their own food during their trip.
Did I mention I had luggage issues? well, the food I prepped didn’t come with me to Shanghai and will be with me shortly, very mouldy and very late, yuk! So I survived primarily on fruit and water, which I believe is essential throughout your journey.
LET’S START WITH THE FRUIT
Some of the food that I prepped at my mum’s house the day before my departure included Ackee with peppers, Black rice, vegetable fritters and plantains. I packed a container of bananas and took a bunch to the airport to snack on. I also warmed 2 of the containers really hot so they would cool gradually and be ready to eat when I arrived at the airport. After my usual lemon water in the morning and closing my suitcases for the final time, I had a small container of the Ackee dish for breakfast with a very small portion of mixed oats and fruit, just to keep me full.
At the airport, I snacked on bananas and had another small container of prepped food. Before I boarded the plane, I ate my last container of food.
On the plane, they didn’t provide a vegan meal – which is not the worse thing in the world, but instead, they brought me a tray with one large dish and 3 small dishes filled with fruit. My tray included:
Banana’s – I added my own
It’s so nice to see brightly coloured fresh food being presented in front of you, especially when you’re surrounded by people who consuming meat dishes! Yuk!
I think everyone should either bring their own fruit or consume more of it prior, during and after the flight. Why? because many fruits like melons contain a high water content that will keep you hydrated, especially as the air in the plane is usually stuffy and dry. You will also benefit from the vast amount of nutrients in them and the high fibre content will keep you full and regular. It may also help to soothe an upset stomach or nausea. So skip the beige, plastic-looking and dull in-flight food that they offer on the plane and opt for fruit you will feel better and be glad you did!
Karen Chong, a registered dietician at Matilda International Hospital says ‘being seated for long hours on a flight requires 5 to 10% fewer calories than when you’re on your feet, so you might want to cut back on some of the snacks. Instead, choose light meals with less sodium, sugar and fewer calories’.
DID SOMEONE SAY WATER?!
We all know how important water is for the human body. Our bodies are made up of over 60% water. Depending on conditions, we will start dying after 3 days without water. As well as hydration, water is vital for digestion, transportation of nutrients, discarding waste, and dissipating heat.
Anyone getting ready to take a flight no matter how long or short the distance, shouldn’t reach for those miniature bottles of alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Karen Chong, recommends decaffeinated coffee, herbal tea, mint tea, chamomile tea and plain water. And if you are going to drink water on those long distance flights with layovers, I would also suggest sipping instead of big gulps of water throughout your travels so you always stay hydrated; Especially when you have to go through security more than once and you can only take 100 millilitres of fluids with you in your hand luggage.
And that’s what I did, I sipped small amounts of water regularly throughout my entire journey as the plane was so stuffy and warm. I also kept the small 100ml bottles filled with water I got off the plane so I could drink them during my layover and during any delays.
When I eat this way, even when the people sitting next to me are looking at me like I’m crazy! who cares?! I feel good, focused, full, and alert with no gastro or stomach problems. And I really encourage you to put some effort into planning your nutrition before you fly to your next destination and for every destination thereafter!
For an added bonus, drinking water and consuming healthy plant-based meals, could help you avoid jet lag!
Let me know in the comments what you eat when you take a flight. Do you enjoy airline food or do you take your own? Is this the time where you indulge in an alcoholic beverage or 3?
Enjoy your travels x