My job causes me to travel a lot. I have a very erratic schedule and erratic eating patterns because of this. I eat a lot of airport snacks in between flights, and I have gained 15 pounds since I took this job.
If it’s any consolation, you are not the only one boarding your flight with more luggage then you need, so-to-speak. The latest statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, released in 2010, more than one third of U.S. adults (more than 72 million people) and 17% of U.S. children are obese. Not exactly conducive to those slim airplane seats.
You may have also noticed that there are many people ahead of you in line at the airport snack food concessions stand, fumbling for quarters. An article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the dietary habits of Americans and discovered that slightly over 27 percent of our daily calories, on average, come from extras such as: sweets, treats, snacks, and fat (sugar, candy, soda, gravy, butter, margarine, and oils). Even worse, about a third of us are devoting close to 45 percent of daily calories to this less nutritious fare. These foods are delegated to the “tip” of the USDA food guide pyramid, and are to be eaten sparingly.
The study uncovered a major problem. When a larger percentage of the diet was devoted to less nutritious foods, the calories not only increased, but the intake of vitamins A, B-6, B12, C, and folate, as well as the minerals, calcium and iron were also lower. In essence, the not-so-good stuff in the diet displaced the good stuff at the expense of nutrition.
So your eating on-the-fly could clearly be causing your weight to take off. Here are some travel tips that may help:
1. Eat before you take off. Grab a meal at the hotel or stop on the way to the airport so that you eat before you board. With a meal under your belt, you will be less likely to snack once you arrive at the airport or once you land. This will also help prevent you from snacking if you get stranded at the airport because of flight delays.
2. Order a special in-flight meal. If you are flying during a mealtime, order a low calorie, low fat entree in advance. Sometimes this has to be done as much as 24 hours before takeoff so consider having it done automatically when your reservations are made.
3. Pack your own meals and snacks. Keep individual-size, instant vegetable and bean soups in your carry-on luggage along with a plastic spoon and whole grain crackers for a light meal. This could be a godsend if your flight should get delayed or if there isn’t a meal served onboard but your arrival time is past your mealtime. Buy a cup of hot water at the airport restaurant or ask for it once onboard. (If they serve tea, they have hot water.) Order a couple extra pieces of fruit at the hotel breakfast and stash it in your briefcase for airport snacking.