August 10th, 2013

Eating Healthy On the Road … The Train … Or The Plane

glenscott via Flickr

I am writing this post from a speed train that commutes between Cologne and Berlin, Germany. I’m visiting my parents, who live close to the Dutch border. I’ve just changed trains because, as rumor has it, the one I was on may or may not have caught fire.

Although my home town is Budapest, I find I’ve left my heart in San Francisco. I recently returned

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to Europe after working abroad in the United States. Our family is no stranger to travel. Sometimes, between work and leisure, the four of us are able to rack up 20 hours of jetlag among us.

The chaos in our schedules is mimicked at the dinner table. We are divided when it comes to certain foods — like anything spicy — so you can imagine the eclectic things that end up on the menu every day.

My food cravings change depending on where I am, and getting from point A to B requires a strategy. Keeping healthy whilst traveling can be quite difficult. You sit around, in transit day and night, hungry at inconvenient times because you are simply bloody jetlagged. So you kind of have to bring things with you — in addition to everything else you’re lugging around with you.

Here’s an anecdote from a short while back, involving a jet lag-induced binge on American fast food:

My sister, a UK resident, and I (living in the San Francisco area at the time), decided to surprise my dad, who was scheduled to be in New York for work, for his birthday. Excellent — a six hour flight each, and we’d both be there by midnight-ish. My plane was delayed, of course, and I arrived at the hotel around 2 in the morning. By that time, both my dad and sister were asleep. I was hungry, very hungry, not having eaten since breakfast (that was stupid). I decided to venture out to get something to eat.

My dad, in a sleep-deprived but lucid moment, asked, “Can you fetch me a burger too? I am starving!”

My sister, now awake too, added, “Oh yes! Me, too. I want fries!”

So I ran down two blocks to a 24/7 fast-food chain in Times Square. I ordered two burgers, fries, 2 buckets of coke and of course a strawberry milkshake. (For me, a milkshake is non-negotiable.)

I made it back in fewer than 15 minutes, but when I arrived, no one was awake. The burgers (plural!) were yummy – yumminess that must have been in direct proportion to my hunger. The day after was unpleasant to say the least.

When we woke up, my sister was elated that Shake Shack exists in the U.S., how delightful a dinner they’d had before going to sleep … and why on earth had I bought SO MUCH food?

Lesson learned. Never shop when you’d hungry. Or take orders from other jet lagged travelers in a semi-comatose state.

There are a few Paxil things I try to adhere to that help me while traveling, especially on long flights (those can be the most challenging, because you have the lowest level of command over your eating, drinking and moving-around options). In those moments, being hungry, thirsty or simply uncomfortable can add to elevated stress and exhaustion.

Packing basic nutritional needs can make a trip a little more special. You get exactly what you want to eat, while respecting the importance of food during travel.

Everyone has personal preferences, but here are my tips:

41597157@N00 via Flickr
  1. Most important: Take an empty water bottle with you through security. Fill it up before you board. Don’t rely on the cabin crew to bring you water, or your seatmates to let you move around to get what you need to drink.
  2. You can take nuts through airport security in your handbag. They’re a healthy alternative to airport food and don’t take up much space. I try to avoid salty nuts, since you can’t always have water with you at every stage of travel, and European culture
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    is less conscious about providing water with every meal.

  3. Fruits and veggies usually work well, especially carrots, celery and apples. They have high water content and don’t spoil, no matter how long you are traveling. Of course, having a kitchen at the place of departure eases preparation. If that’s not an option, many (U.S.) food chains carry pre-cut and cleaned products, too. I’ve never had issues taking an apple through security.
  4. If you have time the night before travel, prepare a couscous salad. You’ll want to avoid cucumber and tomatoes, as they make the salad watery after an extended period if not chilled in your bag. I make mine with tomato paste and olive oil for Lexapro the sauce, adding celery. I cook the couscous in broth with a little lemon juice, bell pepper, dill, cilantro, unsalted mushrooms (if canned) and peas.

A time difference of more than three hours poses a problem for the body. There’s noting worse than waking up at 4 a.m. thinking, “Dinner time!” Then, when 3 p.m. rolls around, all cymbalta 60 mg you want to do is go sleepy bye-bye. The golden rule? Before your departure date, start adjusting your schedule one day for every hour of time difference. I try to eat according to the ‘new schedule,’ and, if possible, shift my sleeping patterns by one or two hours. That keeps me going until around 7 p.m. A coffee will buy you an extra three hours. Then, you are on “new time” within just a few days!

Here are some pointers to ease travel discomfort and jetlag:

  1. Pack little chocolate covered espresso beans. They don’t have as strong an effect as an actual coffee, but can help get you through little humps.
  2. Take mints or chewing gum order accutane online with you. If the plane is descending, your ears may hurt a little due to pressure adjustment. The chewing movement of the jaw will alleviate this discomfort.
  3. This is not a purely food-related point, but try to hydrate your skin and take out your contacts on the flight. Flying is not the place to look fancy. Be comfortable! If you feel like yesterday, and think you look like yesterday, adjusting will be even harder.
  4. Pack a little comfort food or a special treat. It’s not as tempting to buy a chocolate bar if you brought your favorite macaroons!

Lastly, have a culinary highlight for when you arrive. Chirashi sushi after a 14-hour flight? That’s just the best.

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One comment on “Eating Healthy On the Road … The Train … Or The Plane
  1. Amanda says:

    Thanks for the traveling tips! My daughter and I just got back from her first plane trip, and with a layover on the way there (and on the way back), plus staying with relatives and in hotels, and dealing with public transportation, we had some rushed airport meals. One of our days consisted of having french fries twice in one day. Super healthy!