My recent travel journeys as well as a few flight attendant clients have inspired me to share with you some of my travelling nutrition suggestions to help you arrive at your destination fresh, fed and energised.
I am a huge fan of travelling. Whether it’s the beach, the snow, some ancient ruins or amusement parks, I am up for all of it. As a foodie, sampling the local cuisine, is of course, high on my list of things to do. And while the being there is generally wonderful for trying new foods, the getting there can be a little less fabulous. Let’s face it, when you’re travelling cattle class, plane food, or airport food, isn’t really top choice!
Travel is an easy time to pick up bugs, it can wear your immune system down and it can leave you dehydrated and exhausted. Sitting for 10-20 hours in a cramped chair doesn’t get any better when your tummy is giving you troubles because it’s fighting to digest the burger and fries you enjoyed at the airport or trying to process that extra glass of red when you were already dehydrated.
My number one piece of advice: pack your own food for the plane. As a gluten-free foodie, I have learnt the art of “handbag-snacking” and you can generally pre-order a gluten free meal. My recent trip to Hawaii proved otherwise – my airline only catered for vegetarians! It’s always best to be prepared for you and your family so you are not caught short of nutritious snacks. And remember, a full tummy to start your flight may make it easier for you to sleep and the right combination of nutrients may help ward off digestive upsets to your tummy, whether it be diarrhoea or constipation.
Water – first and foremost, stay hydrated. Dehydration makes you feel pretty rubbish in general, but add a plane-ride, a lack of sleep and some caffeine and you will soon be feeling worse. Add a little mineral salt to your water for easier absorption and aim to sip continuously through the flight. Avoid alcohol and caffeine which will only further dehydrate you.
Main meals – pack yourself a protein-rich, vegetarian meal for a long haul flight. The protein will keep you fuller for longer and choosing a vegetable based protein will make it easier for your body to digest. My favourite is a roasted vegetable quinoa “risotto” topped with goats’ cheese, a sprinkle of seaweed and some cultured veggies to keep your tummy bacteria doing the right thing.
Muesli is an easy meal to bring on the plane. You can make your own by roasting your choice of nuts, seeds, coconut flakes and puffed rice for about 10 minutes in a 175C oven. Pack into a travel container and ask for some milk on the plane. A fabulous high-protein and filling meal.
You can also pre-pack a wrap or sandwich, made with grainy bread, avocado, salad, tofu and cheese, pack a salad filled with brightly coloured veggies and nuts or even mix yourself up a smoothie for the airport (note, you may need to finish this one before you head through security).
Snacks – Again, homemade is always best. Chop up some veggie sticks to dip into some hummus, make your own trail mix snack packs with nuts, seeds, cacao nibs and a little dried fruit, or even some homemade muesli bars. Fresh fruit is always an easy option - seedless grapes, apples and pears make perfect snacks and are great for your digestive system.
If time isn’t on your side, try hard-boiling some eggs, grab some Fine Fettle Flats, Beanfields Bean Chips (seriously delicious) or some wholefood snack bars like the range from Emma & Tom’s – the cacao and orange is my favourite. Soma Organics also offer some delicious snacks in a resealable travel container. I always make sure I have a few of each of these in my suitcase too, for easy snacking once I arrive at my destination. (All of these products are available at Woolworths in the health food aisle).
Dessert - you can't go wrong with some Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Pack a stash for some in flight munching.
Herbal tea – take a few tea bags of your favourites to sip on during the flight, helping you to avoid caffeine. Ginger tea is a great choice if you suffer from air sickness or chamomile is lovely and soothing to help you sleep or calm your nerves.
Avoid – steer clear of fizzy drinks, fried food or refined sugars and refined carbohydrates before you get on a plane. All of these can irritate your tummy and your digestive system, leaving you bloated, gassy and uncomfortable. Add that to a cramped airplane chair for 20 hours and you will be seriously cranky!
For those of you travelling with kids, the same rules apply. Feed them some nourishing wholefoods before you hop on the plane and limit sugars and refined carbohydrates as you would at home. Read them a story, keep them warm and help them relax to hopefully fall asleep too. Ensure you have a backpack filled with healthy snacks and a few activities to keep them busy so you can have some quiet time too.
And finally, try and get some sleep! Eating a nourishing meal before you hop on the plane and ensuring you are hydrated before you get started, will set you off on the right foot. Practice your usual bedtime rituals on the plane – a warm cup of herbal tea, brush your teeth, reading under dim light and so forth – then pop in your earplugs, put on your eye mask, recline your chair and relax!
Happy travels x