They say eating healthy while traveling is tough.
Yeah. Try doing it for a living. It’s hard enough for the regular joe to live a healthy lifestyle, let alone someone who’s constantly traveling from city to city as a career. I envy the average person who can cook a fresh meal every day in the comfort of their own home. Instead, I’m stuck lugging around a lunch kit with four days’ worth of microwavable meals.
Don’t worry, there is hope! Since being on the fly for over two years now, I’ve figured out some tips and tricks to keep meals healthy and to help make the right choices on the go.
1. Read all food labels
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve found myself with a jar of what I thought was healthy “natural” peanut butter, turned it over and realized, there’s added oils, salt and sugar in this?! That’s right. Statements on the front of consumer products can be misleading. The statements, “organic”, “natural”, “low in sodium” and “reduced sodium” aren’t monitored as well as we’d like to hope by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Foods labeled as “low in sodium” are only required to have 140 mg less sodium than a similar product, which isn’t much of a difference. “Reduced sodium” products are only required to have less than 25% sodium than a similar product. Many products that tout themselves as gluten-free, salt-free, or fat free tend to add a lot of extra sugar, oils, and salts to make up for the lack of another ingredient. Also, keep in mind that in Canada, genetically modified foods are not required to bear a label, it’s voluntary. If you check your labels, you can avoid filling your body with unhealthy choices.
2. Pack your own meals and pack snacks too!
The last thing you want to do on your day off is prepare for work the next day. It’s worth it though, trust me. If you pre-pack healthy meals, it will help avoid going out at midnight for a burger and fries. It will also help you from starving yourself on the plane until you get a quick break to run in and salvage something from the Tim Horton’s. Cooking your own meals will allow you to know exactly what you’re eating. As opposed to picking up a salad, that has a 400 calorie salad dressing (oops).
There are also those times when you are working on an aircraft and you just don’t have time to sit down and eat a meal. Well, actually, this happens all the time. If you are only packing meals on your pairings, you will sabotage all the healthy choices you’ve been making with your meals. Why? When you just need a small snack, you’re going to reach for the chocolate wafer cookies and corn chips. If you pack your own snacks, you’ll reach for some healthier popcorn, watermelon slices…etc.
3. If you’re going to eat out…don’t always opt for the salad
When I go to Earls, my go to meal is the Sante Fe Chicken Salad. It’s a salad. It has chicken. Can’t be bad for you right? Wrong. The Santa Fe Chicken Salad is 880 calories with 2,100 milligrams of sodium. An average 130 lb woman should consume between 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day. That means this salad at Earls is almost HALF of my daily intake. Not to mention that I shouldn’t be consuming more than 2,300 mg of sodium. In comparison, a Big Mac burger from McDonalds is 300 calories less than the salad and has half of the sodium. I’m not saying go for the Big Mac, but, check out the nutrition info before you make your eating-out choices.
4. Change it up
“If I eat chili one more time this pairing I am going to vomit!” How many times have you heard this? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself once or twice. Sometimes when we do try to cook our own meals and attempt to be healthy, we go overboard with the same meal. Same meat. Same spices. It gets old really fast. You have to pack different meals in your kit, or you will go insane. Or worse, end up throwing food away and spending $40 at the Moxies in Regina. Buy a cookbook. Call your mom. Get recipes from Pinterest. Do whatever it takes to find easy meals you can make to-go.
5. Freeze your meals
This point ties in with the above statement. It’s hard to cook 10 different meals. So, we end up making a giant batch of one thing and eat it over, and over again. Keep making those giant batches! But instead of only packing your world-famous turkey chili for a four-day pairing, freeze half of it. Save it for a pairing next week or even next month. That way, it’ll also save you from cooking extra in the future. It’s a win-win!
Stay tuned for the next five tips! ❤ Ashley