The sky's the limit with airplane food

Flying is an endurance test at the best of times. Before you even take off you have to shuffle down the narrow aisles, squeeze yourself into the miniscule seat (designed for comfort !?).

To crown it all off, if you have already taken control of your eating and started trying to lose your excess weight, the flight you are about to take is full of hidden dangers, particularly the long hauls.

To start your journey, you will be served a high fat snack, usually peanuts or greasy crackers, and an alcohol drink, juice or fizzy drink. Then you will be served three or four courses all at once making it difficult to skip one. This is likely to be salad and a roll with butter (no low fat dressing), followed by some kind of meat (if you eat it) in some kind of sauce with some kind of starchy food.

Then there’s the inevitable wobbly, creamy something for dessert. On a long haul there may be ice cream served with your movie. On a really long haul you may be offered a cooked breakfast at some point in the proceedings. On a short hop you are likely to be offered a ham or cheese sandwich loaded with mayonnaise and followed by a chocolate biscuit. If you are flying in the morning you may get a ‘continental breakfast’ i.e. a croissant with butter and jam.

All those calories add up and a recent survey of the nutritional content of airline meals by Internet health company suggested that the average airline meal provides as much as 1,054 calories and 52g of fat!

For a dieter, clearly the skies are not so friendly. The normally smooth journey towards that target weight can be subject to turbulence. To combat this, we have produced our very own safety sheet. Check it out before you fly. For the well-informed dieter, the sky doesn’t have to be the limit…

1. Order your meals when you buy your ticket.

You can also order a special meal up to 24 hours before you fly. Choose low calorie (low fat doesn’t necessarily mean low calorie!) if possible. Some airlines also offer fruit platters. If you forget, you can always pick up a healthy sandwich at the airport before you board to avoid temptation.

2. Bring your own snacks.

Fruit or vegetable sticks are perfect, or low fat cereal bars and rice cakes. Yoghurts are also a good option but eat them early on in your journey as they won't stay chilled.

3. Use your waiting time at the airport to get some exercise.

You probably have to check in at least an hour before you travel so instead of sitting it out, use the time to explore the shops at the airport and get the blood circulating and those legs moving. You will have to sit for a long time on the plane so this will also help combat boredom and restlessness.

4. Don’t eat everything on your plate.

Although the small portion sizes of airplane meals will be your saving grace, you still don’t have to eat everything. It’s easy enough to use a very small amount of salad dressing, hold the butter on your roll, skip the dessert and skip the chocolate.

5. Listen to your hunger signals.

The danger with long flights is that boredom will set in and eating is simply a way to relieve this. When the hostess offers you that ice cream when the movie starts, think about it ‘Am I really hungry?’

6. Drink plenty of water during the flight.

This will help you feel less hungry, prevent you drinking less healthy alternatives and prevent dehydration which will leave you feeling exhausted and vulnerable to temptation when you arrive.

7. Avoid alcohol.

As well as providing you with those extra calories, alcohol will weaken your resolve and you may find yourself eating your neighbours meal as well as your own!

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