The feeling of taking off in an airplane is hard to describe. It’s a mixture of excitement, anticipation and anxiety. For the next several hours, the seat you’re in will be your home. Books and screens will keep you busy—or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch a little shut-eye.
And then—your stomach rumbles. Uh-oh. You know that your dining choices on an airplane are limited. Questionably culinary decisions are about to be made.
It’s easy to give in to unhealthy food options on an airplane, but if you’re hoping to hop off the plane feeling refreshed and energized, then you’ll need to have a healthy eating game plan. It is possible—here are 7 ways to stay healthy while dining on a plane.
Start With a Full Tank
We all know not to buy groceries on an empty stomach. Apply the same principal for flying. Have a hearty and healthy meal before you head to the airport. A full stomach will make it easier to turn down airplane snacks.
On a shorter flight, you might be able to skip airport and airplane eating altogether. But on a longer haul, make sure to keep refueling before your tank gets totally empty. Snack smartly to avoid binging on a huge, unhealthy meal.
The best airplane food originates from your own kitchen. Packing your own lunch is the smartest option, allowing you to choose your food wisely. Be mindful of your fellow passengers and pack something relatively tidy and odor-free, like a sandwich.
Even if you can’t pack a whole meal, tuck snacks into your carry-on bag, like nuts, dried fruit, and baby carrots.
Peruse the Terminal
Most airport terminals offer a wider range of food choices than the limited menu on the airplane, so if you can’t pack your own lunch, pick something up before you board your flight.
Steer clear of fried food and baked goods. Look out for options like salads, sandwiches that you can build yourself, veggie burgers, vegetarian pizza, and bean burritos.
Rare is the domestic flight that offers free in-flight meals—but many international routes still offer complimentary meals. When you purchase your ticket, many airlines will allow you to indicate your dietary preferences or restrictions. If there are healthy options or vegetarian options, be sure to select those for a smarter meal.
Are you really hungry—or just bored? Airplane rides involve long stretches of time with relatively few distractions, and many people turn to snacking to alleviate boredom. If you suspect this is the case, pick up your water bottle.
If you have a sweet tooth, plan ahead by packing along a treat. This might seem counter intuitive, but having your own sweet snack can help prevent you from impulsively picking up the tantalizing treats that seem to be everywhere in an airport. And remember—your final destination will likely offer special, one-of-a-kind treats. Wouldn’t you rather save room for those than eat the airport’s offerings?
Not all airlines’ nutritional plans are created equally! Certain airlines focus more on providing healthy options, so if you have a choice of which airline to fly, consider choosing one that values nutrition. Virgin Airlines is well-known for the tasty variety of nutritious meals in its on-flight menus. United, JetBlue, Delta, and American also offer some healthy options—just be sure to avoid the tempting junk food on the menus!