A Nutritionist’s Guide to Fueling Your Journey: How to Stay Nourished When You Travel

Airplane wing in the sky.

Whether you’re embarking on a business trip or a vacation getaway, hunger can quickly put a damper on your flight experience. The lack of healthy food choices onboard can leave you feeling drained and moody, setting the wrong tone for a pleasant travel experience. While airports have made improvements in their food options, the constraints of time and availability can still make it challenging to find a satisfying meal. This article from The Food Network may help: How to Eat Healthy at the Airport. In this blog post, I’ll explore a simple solution to ensure you start your journey on the right foot by eating well before leaving home as well as nourishing yourself as best you can along the way!

The Importance of Nourishment:

Maintaining proper nutrition while traveling is crucial for sustaining energy levels and enhancing your mood. The quality of food you consume directly impacts your body’s ability to perform at its best. When we go without food for extended periods, our body goes through several physiological changes to cope with the lack of nutrients.

Firstly, blood sugar levels can drop, leading to feelings of weakness, irritability, and even dizziness. This happens because our body relies on glucose from food as its primary source of energy, and when that supply is depleted, it can result in these unpleasant sensations.

Additionally, prolonged fasting or inadequate nutrition can trigger the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, as your body perceives the situation as a form of stress. Elevated cortisol levels can negatively affect your mood and may even disrupt your sleep patterns.

By nourishing yourself with macronutrient balanced and nourishing meals before takeoff, you can proactively address these potential food-related issues during your flight. It’s a preventative step towards ensuring your body has the fuel it needs to perform optimally and keep you feeling your best while you travel.

A variety of colors, textures and macronutrients for all preferences.

Plan Ahead:

To avoid the pitfalls of limited food choices at the airport, it’s essential to plan your meals in advance. Consider these tips to ensure you’re well-fed before departure:

a) Prepare Nutrient-Rich Meals:
Take the time to create well-balanced meals that incorporate the three essential macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. These macronutrients are the foundation of your diet and play a crucial role in providing the energy and nutrients your body needs to function optimally.
Protein, found in lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes, is vital for maintaining muscle mass and providing a feeling of fullness that can keep hunger at bay during your flight.
Healthy fats, such as those from avocados, nuts, and olive oil, are not only a concentrated source of energy but also aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and help keep your skin and hair healthy.
Carbohydrates, particularly from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide the energy your body needs for both short bursts of intense activity and sustained activities, like a long flight.
By balancing these macronutrients in your meals leading up to your flight or vacation, you’ll ensure that you have a steady and sustainable source of energy. Lean proteins keep you satisfied, healthy fats provide lasting energy, and carbohydrates offer readily available fuel for your journey. Make this a priority not just the morning of your flight but also in the days leading up to it. By doing so, you’re giving yourself a fighting chance to have the energy you need to enjoy your flight and the adventures that await you at your destination.

b) Pack Snacks:

Opt for portable snacks such as home made trail mix, protein bars, or fresh fruit. These convenient options can keep hunger at bay and provide nourishment during your flight. As much as possible, choose bars with a higher protein content. Opt for meat sticks or jerky made without nitrates. There are also some salty snacks that incorporate protein sources like chickpea or pea protein. Apples can be refreshing and hydrating and are non-perishable. Or go old school and pack a traditional sandwich. Think about how hungry you’ll be and how ignoring that can leave you feeling deflated.

charcuterie board

c) Stay Hydrated:

Remember to hydrate adequately before your journey, as dehydration can exacerbate feelings of fatigue. Water, herbal tea, or electrolyte-rich beverages are excellent choices to keep you refreshed. Bring a water bottle that can be filled at the airport or splurge on spring water when you get to the airport. Nutritionist tip: buy water on your way to your hotel to ensure to can drink as much water as you need. Hotel rooms can be dry and dehydrating and purchasing water at your hotel can be dehydrating to your wallet! Here is an informative article from UC Davis health on hydration.

Making the Most of In-Flight Options:

While it’s advisable to eat well beforehand, sometimes hunger strikes mid-flight. In such cases, consider these strategies:

a) Pre-order Special Meals:

Many airlines offer pre-order options for special dietary requirements. Whether you follow a vegan, gluten-free, or low-sodium diet, pre-ordering a meal can ensure you have a healthier and more satisfying option onboard.

b) Snack Mindfully:

If you find yourself needing a snack during the flight, choose wisely from the available options. Look for items like nuts, fresh fruit, or yogurt that can provide essential macronutrients and keep you satiated.

Post-Flight Recovery:

Even if you’ve managed to eat well before and during your flight, it’s essential to focus on recovery once you’ve arrived at your destination. Consider making a reservation before your travels so you can sit down to a full meal within an hour of your arrival.

Vacation dinner with a view.

When it comes to air travel, a little preparation can go a long way in ensuring you have the right kind of energy and mood for pleasant travel. By prioritizing nutritious meals before departure, you’ll not only satisfy your hunger but also equip yourself with the necessary fuel for a comfortable journey. Remember, while airports may not always have the best food options, you have the power to take control of your nutrition and make informed choices that contribute to an enjoyable travel experience.