Crew Life: Eating Healthy As A Flight Attendant
Welcome to another Crew Life post. ✈️ A question I often get is how I manage to eat fresh, healthy and vegan while flying and traveling so much. Well, it is not always easy and requires a bit of organization. But I have some tricks and habits that are the key to success. 🙂
I consider myself very lucky as I really love fresh and healthy food, with one or another exception. While it is no problem for me to stick to a balanced diet at home, it becomes tricky to control what I eat when abroad and I end up not making the healthiest choices. 🙁 It is a vicious circle, after having too much processed food I lack energy and I crave even more unhealthy food.
What to bring along
I don’t think airport or airplane food is bad in general, but fresh healthy vegan options on the go are often very poor and limited, even though it is constantly improving. 🙂 That is why I always bring my own food or at least something to snack on. Liquid regulations are an issue when traveling by plane, but there is some food you can bring along and easily prepare before you eat it.
Here are some things I like to bring a lot:
Chia seeds work well for almost every dish. I usually have a small package in my bag. They just require some liquids (nut-milk, juice or even water) and you are good to go. Chia-pudding, salad-toppings or chia seeds inside a glass of fresh juice are my favorites.
Oats. I have oats for breakfast 365 and thanks to various “toppings” it never gets boring. Get yourself some fresh juice at the airport or ask for hot water in the plane, mix it together with some oats and voilà: you have oatmeal. Filling and yummy! 🙂 Fresh fruits or small portions of nut-butter are usually no problem to take with you and they add a nice touch to my porridge.
I also like to bring some crackers (I really like the spelt-crackers with sesame from Alnatura, you find in a lot of supermarkets in Austria, Switzerland and Germany), fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, avocado and cherry tomatoes. These things need little to no preparation and serve as an in-between-snack or pimp whatever I will eat later.
Plus, whenever I bring something yummy along I am not tempted to eat unhealthy fast food, as I am usually always looking forward to my meal. 🙂
The next thing is water. I know you have heard it about a million times, but: DRINK WATER.
The air in the plane is really dry and it feels like there is even less humidity in our crewbunk (where we can rest during a long-haul flight). On a 12-hour-flight or a 12-hours-working-day I drink around 3 liters of water, sometimes more. What might sound like a crazy amount of water, feels just right for me. Of course there is an occasional glass of soda or juice, but I try to really stick to the 3 liters of water. For a bit more taste I like to squeeze some fresh lemon in my water. Furthermore water also helps me to prevent jetlag. (Read my post here.)
When I feel like drinking something hot in the morning, I go for green tea or matcha, a special form of Japanese green tea powder. I don’t like coffee, but green tea is said to have the same effect on your body.
Drink your greens
Sometimes when we have to wait for our plane or have a break between two flights, I get myself a green smoothie or juice. Luckily some gate areas have a juice or smoothie bar. If time permits I quickly stop by for some extra energy.
Vienna International Airport (VIE) or Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) have some very nice juice bars for example.
During my layover I usually stop by at a local grocery store (I am curious about what products other countries sell) or a fruit and vegetable market. I like to get myself some food for the return flight.
My all-time-favorite grocery store is Wholefoods, but I am also a huge fan of Mercado Municipal in São Paulo, Brazil or Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain.
When I go out for a meal I sometimes order a second portion for take-away and eat it later on. Avocado rolls, salads, fresh fruits, vegetable wraps or quinoa bowls are my favorite on-the-go-snacks and provide me from making bad meal choices.
When searching for a restaurant that offers vegetarian or vegan dishes, I use an app called Happy Cow. It shows surrounding restaurants on the map. Be careful, the app is only working when the phone is connected to the internet! Still, it is very helpful for me, especially when it is my first time in a new neighborhood or I don’t know any restaurants yet.
A place that is always good for healthy options is Le Pain Quotidien, a restaurant group you’ll find in the USA, Brazil, Russia, Switzerland, Great Brittain, The Netherlands, Belgium and many other countries. Their avocado toast is beyond delicious! 🙂
Balance is everything
I think a major part of the culture comes along with local food. That’s why I try to taste as many local dishes as possible, no matter if they are super healthy or not. For me it is a must to have some Dangos in Japan, stay on hummus and falafel in Oman, eat some cupcakes from the cupcake ATM in the States or enjoy some Italian pizza in Rome. Therefore I am not too restrictive. Life is too short to not go for that cupcake 😛 Everything in moderation.
Disclaimer: I am no nutrition or certified health expert. I am just sharing what works best for me and my diet and what I consider healthy.