Eating healthy while flying

It may seem hard to eat healthy while flying, but it’s much easier than you might think. Here are three things to keep in mind to help you eat better while flying.

1. Drink water.

Drink lots of it. According to, “It is important to stay hydrated while traveling, which is especially important on long flights. We feel most comfortable when humidity is around 50% – meaning the air is 50% saturated with water. Air in an airline cabin can fall to as low as 1% on long flights.” In my experience, drinking lots of water on flights allows me to feel better in the days after and to overcome jet-lag quickly. I find that having a great travel water bottle helps, as does knowing where to fill it. Also, avoid sodas; they will dehydrate you.

2. Find your healthy restaurant options (in advance).

If you are in a specific airport frequently, take some time to find healthy choices at that airport. Schedule a longer layover on your next trip, or arrive early and go searching. (The added benefit to this is that you get some exercise while walking through the airport.) If you’re in a hurry, Google for “healthy food at XXX airport”. I am frequently in Detroit and Minneapolis, so I’ve taken the time to find healthy options that I enjoy at both of those airports. (For the interested: Surdyk’s in the mall area at MSP and Mediterranean Gill in the A concourse at DTW are my healthy options.) has a slideshow that features healthy choices for several airports that can get you started.

3. Avoid the “free” food.

Almost everything that is served for free on a plane, with the exception of fresh fruit, salads, and water is probably not good for you. The food that airlines serve is made to be cheap, transport and store well, and taste good. I just don’t want to think about the magic that happens to make this work; it probably involves lots of salt and preservatives whose names I can’t pronounce. If you must eat a meal on on the plane, pick one item that is clearly bad for you and remove it from your plate/tray. I’ve had luck asking the flight attendant to leave the dessert off my place (which is a very tasty ~400 calorie brownie when flying first class on Delta). For longer flights, you can pack some veggies or protein bars to satisfy your cravings.

The same goes for food in the lounges. I love Biscoff cookies, Tillamook cheese, caramel popcorn, and cookies; a visit to the lounge risks adding a quick 1,000 empty calories to my diet. If I’m going to visit the lounge, it’s best for me to grab some carrots or celery (no dips) and sit away…far away from the snacks.

That’s it! Simple, right?

Readers, what do you do to eat healthy while you’re traveling?

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