How to Stay Healthy on a Long-Distance Flight
Traveling is wonderful in many ways, but it can be murder on your immune system and upend your commitment to healthy eating.
There are numerous ways you can get from Point A to Point B with your health intact, and we consulted some experts in health, nutrition, fitness, and travel for some tips. [related]
There’s beauty in planning ahead. Not only does it give you control over what you put into your body, but it can also save you tons of money. Why spend $10 on an airport latte and muffin when you can pack a box full of protein and nutrients for far less if you carry a bag from home? As they say: You are what you eat, and if you eat right, you’ll have a more pleasant flight, and enjoy your destination far more when you do arrive.
You don’t have to eat airport or airline foods. You don’t have to be controlled by your surroundings and let what is immediately available dictate your choices. That’s the way people gain weight and get sick. What you do need to do is plan to carry healthy snacks that will keep you feeling good all through your flight; plan to stay well hydrated; and move around as much as possible.
Plan and Prep
You know the saying: Fail to plan, plan to fail. That goes double at airports, where all sorts of overpriced convenience foods await your arrival. Plan ahead and travel with raw or dehydrated nuts, celery and little packets of almond butter, and nitrate-free jerky. “I also pack non-soy, non-dairy protein powder and a shaker cup for a fast, convenient, hunger-busting mini-meal,” suggests JJ Virgin, a fitness and nutrition expert, and author of NY Times bestseller The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days. Check out this app on the TSA website to search for what food items may (or may not be) currently allowed in your carry-on.
Drink a lot of water. It is important to hydrate your body before any long period of inactivity, says Alejandro Chabán, certified nutrition consultant and founder of the Yes You Can! Diet Plan — and the dry airplane atmosphere is particularly taxing. Drinking water before a trip hydrates your skin, oxygenates your muscles, and regulates your bodily fluids, alleviating swelling and liquid retention. Recycled air and pressurized cabins increase dehydration, so it’s recommended that you drink four to six ounces of water per hour in the air. A great bet is to bring an empty water bottle and fill it up post-security, just before the flight. If you get bored of water, try coconut water as an alternative. Coconut water hydrates faster than water, contains five essential electrolytes, and includes as much potassium as a banana. Another option is to drink a bottle or two of water (or coconut water) en route to the airport in case you fall asleep and forget to hydrate inflight!
Aly Walansky is a special contributor to The Daily Meal.