Monday, August 17, 2015

Healthy Eating On Vacation - Part 1. The all-day plane travel

If you are a friend, or follow me on FB or Instagram, then you know my family recently traveled on summer vacation.

This was the year that we traveled to visit our families on the opposite side of the country, for two weeks.  The vacation started with one VERY long day.  We left the house around 5 or 5:30 am, drove two hours to Los Angeles, parked the car and took a shuttle to the airport.

Next up was two 3 to 3.5 hour flights, with a short layover in between.  Then another 2 hour drive to my family's house (luckily my stepfather picked us up AND borrowed an Explorer from his brother).

So, how do you eat healthy traveling all day?  It can be tricky.  You can buy food in the airport, but it is rarely healthy.  If you find healthy food, it's expensive (I paid $7.64 for 2 bottles of water at LAX).  You can find salads, but I find that many salads from "elsewhere" make me sick - as if they don't wash the greens first.  My niece travels for business and she carries ALL her own food, often for 3 full days - otherwise she'll go off plan.  (You can read her blog here.)  That's a little much for me, and I'm not sure how well the food would keep when traveling for as long as we did.  (By the time we made it to the house, we'd been "on the road" for 18 hours).

It's of course frugal to bring your own food, also.

Well let's start with my parameters.  First of all, my breakfast is pretty much shakeology every day.  I prefer to blend it with ice and banana.  On the long flight, that's what I did - made it, chugged it, and rinsed out my container and packed it before we left.

I'd really planned on staying "on track" with the 21 day fix for the full trip.  Here was my loose plan on the first travel day:

Breakfast: Shakeo w/ banana (1 red, 1 purple)
Snack in the car: 2 hard boiled eggs, Mary's gone crackers (1 red, 1 yellow)
Lunch at LAX: Vega One shake, apple, raw veggies (1 red, 1 purple 1 green) (I chose Vega One because they mix will with just ice and water)
Snack on the plane: Cashews and cucumber/tomato salad (1 orange, 1 green)
Dinner in Houston: Quest protein bar and more veggies (1 red, 1 green)
Snack: Kind bar: (1 blue, 1 tsp)

I did pretty well, but honestly don't remember exactly what I ate.  We spent a couple of hours or more at the United Club in LAX.  They had nice breakfast options (and good coffee), so I may have had part of a bagel.  They had switched over to lunch before we left.  For my lunch I had packed a tomato and cucumber salad - the lunch offered included hummus and kalamata olives, so I took some of the olives to add to my salad and some hummus to eat with my veggies later.  I also tossed some cheese cubes in my container to go with my crackers.

Of course I drank a ton of water, but carefully timed because you don't want to be stuck on a plane having to pee when the seat belt light is on.  Which the boys and I BOTH had to do when we weren't allowed up.  When the light went off again, yes I went to the bathroom FIRST.  But on the other hand, I let my old son pee in a bottle, while I held a blanket to cover him.  Those $7 bottles of water came in handy.

Bonus: they have bubble water/ seltzer as an option now on United flights, which beats juice/ soda for me.

More about the Vega One: I got the vanilla chai based on online recommendations, and it was yucky. And now I have 28 more of them.  I think I may try to blend them with blueberries, and see if it gets better.  Or bananas.  Or donate them.  Because, yuck.

So, what did my family eat?  Well, I wish I'd taken a picture.  But I didn't.  Each family member got two small baggies with their name on them.
One had raw veggies (carrots, snap peas, cucumber, peppers)
One had other snacks, like nuts, granola bars, or a small chocolate bar.
Each family member also had an apple.
I also took string cheese that I'd frozen so it would defrost as we went.

I did not worry about lunch and dinner for the family.  They ate at the airports.  It's too much work to worry about me AND them, and they like eating out anyway.  Honestly, I don't even remember what they ate at the airports, aside from the free food in the United Club.

In summary, recommendations for healthy eating for long plane travel:
1.  For produce, pack as many fruits and veggies as you'd normally eat during that time.
2.  Fruit: pick things that keep well: apples, oranges - not bananas that mush easily.  Berries or melon in a tupperware container will be good too, and more of a "treat" (with a plastic fork).
3.  Vegetables: raw is your friend. Maybe you can find hummus at the airport.  Chopped salads are great, especially ones that you can pre-dress, like cucumber or bean salads or kale salads.  Depending on how long you are waiting to eat them, I'd avoid dairy.
4.  Pre-pack in baggies or containers with everyone's name, so you don't forget anyone.
5.  Make sure to pack "treats" (100 calorie chocolate bars for us) for the trip.
6.  Bring an empty water bottle for each person (I paid $7.64 for 2 bottles of water at LAX).
7.  Bring some protein - hard boiled eggs, string cheese, nuts.  You can bring tuna packets but do NOT eat those on the plane!
8.  Eat the perishable foods FIRST.  Early in the day you'll be eating the eggs and cheese and berries.  Later in the day you'll be eating apples and nuts.
9.  For inspiration, pretend like you are camping without refrigeration
10.  Pack an "emergency" snack bag, in addition to bags for each family member.  I cannot tell you how many times we have been traveling and we ended up running between flights - so NO time to get food in the airport.  Then, on the next flight, we'd end up in the back of the plane - they would run out of food for sale before they got to us.  My emergency snack bags usually have nuts, fruit, candy, granola bars, crackers.

Let me know in the comments if you have any more tips!

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