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    How To Avoid Letting Free Food Sabotage Your Health Efforts

    How To Avoid Letting Free Food Sabotage Your Health Efforts

    Have you traveled abroad on a long international flight? If so, you may know the drill when it comes to food and drinks served onboard. The enjoyable 3 course meal and free glasses of beer, wine, or cocktails.

    However, do you ever find yourself obsessing over the delivery of the in-flight food? Are you nervous to sleep, for fear of missing the service?

    I get it- you’ve paid a pretty penny for this airplane ticket- there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the amenities that come with it.

    But let’s dive a little deeper about your mindset when it comes to “free” food.

    On my recent 13 hour connecting flight to Auckland, New Zealand, this was the menu we were given on our American Airlines flight:

    Feed Your Appetite (+1-2 hours)

    ·      Thai green curry with chicken jasmine rice and red pepper

    ·      Italian grain and vegetable pie with polenta and tomatoes

    ·      Chilled quinoa, corn and black bean salad with flame broiled chicken and olive oil vinaigrette

    All served with double chocolate mousse (330 calories)

    Treat Yourself (+7-8 hours)

    ·      Margherita stromboli

    ·      Gelato

    In addition, enjoy sweet and savory snacks near our gallery

    Wake Up To Breakfast (+12-13 hours)

    ·      Traditional American breakfast of scrambled eggs, hash browns, grilled turkey ham, sautéed mushrooms and roasted tomato

    ·      Seasonal fruit plate

    Both served with Greek yogurt and granola

    OK, so here’s the deal.

    WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN….

    1)    You’re sleeping and you miss the service

    First, don’t panic. You have a call-light; press it. Trust me, it won’t shine a high beam on your seat or make a siren noise- waking up all of your fellow passengers.

    But before you ask for your meal, take inventory of your hunger. Rank your hunger on a scale of 1-10 (10 = starving).

    Subjectively, here’s how I navigate my next move with in-flight service based on my hunger scale:

    Hunger ScaleDecision To Eat
    < 5 No need for food. Skip it.
    5 – 6 If I just missed the service, it would be okay to call for the meal but to hold off on eating it for 1-2 hours until I’m a little hungrier. [In-flight entertainment is a great way to get your mind off the sight and smell of the food sitting right in front of you on your tray table. However, if the next meal will be delivered within the next 1-2 hours, I usually won’t call for the meal altogether, and I’ll just stick it out.]
    7 – 10 If I just missed the service, I’ll ask for the meal and enjoy it then and there. If it’s been awhile, I’ll dig into my stash of snacks.

    2)    The food that’s arrived doesn’t taste great or isn’t appealing

    Don’t. Eat. It.

    This is where intentional and mindful munching comes into play. Have you been raised to be a “food-finisher”?

    Quick question: What good is that stale, tasteless, and highly processed piece of bread really going to do for your health and long-term health goals?

    How are you going to feel after you finish not only your double chocolate mousse dessert, but the leftovers from your significant other’s tray as well? (Spoiler alert- those 2 double chocolate mousse desserts will cost you 660 calories)!

    Remember: you’re on a long and sedentary flight. You can’t rely on exercise to compensate for the over-indulgence in calories that aren’t contributing fulfillment, nourishment, and enjoyment into your life.

    Eat with intention. Mind your munching.

    Do what it takes to make the food even more displeasing. Slather butter and pepper all over your bread so you’re not tempted to eat it. Give yourself an “Okay- last bite” rule when you’re starting to feel full, and then physically push your tray away from you to symbolize you’re finished with the meal.

    As soon as you can offload your tray to the flight attendant, do so.

    3)    But the food and drinks are FREE!

    Well, technically, you’ve paid for them… but STILL. That’s not an excuse to munch mindlessly.

    Now, if your hunger is a 5-6 and you have the capacity to accept the food and let it linger in front of you until you’re hungry enough to eat it- great! No problem. Go about your business.

    For most of us, this is a tough thing to do.

    So, when you’re tempted by the delivery of an “all-inclusive” meal or beverage service, ask yourself these two questions:

    Am I eating or drinking because I want it?

    Or am I accepting these things because I don’t want to waste my money?

    Here’s the problem with the latter.

    You know what is more expensive than the cost of the microwavable meal (and $5 beverage) you could be missing out on during your flight?

    The cost of your medications, diet pills, insulin injections, clinic office visits, and meal replacement programs that are now doing damage control for your long-term mindless munching habits.

    Ouch. I apologize if that one stung a bit… (I say it with love)!

    If you want to change your health, you have to re-wire your mindset and behavior.

    So, if you find yourself justifying mindless munching in order to save money, then you have to say NO (thank you) as an investment in your health.

    Here’s my advice: make sure you come prepared.

    Have healthy snacks with you that are in alignment with your health goals. I’m a big fan of bringing single serving snack bags of unroasted/unsalted nuts. The great thing about nuts is that they’re satiating, won’t melt in hot temperatures, and won’t smell when you eat them in public (…comparison made to eating hard-boiled eggs…).

    LaraBars and RxBars are also great snack options. But again- if you’re traveling somewhere warm, I’d avoid any chocolate versions of these bars. They’ll melt and become a mess to eat when you’re out of napkins.

    By having snacks on-deck, you’ll alleviate the stress of food scarcity when traveling long distances. Yes, you can enjoy the food and beverage amenities that are exciting and fun while traveling abroad! Just indulge in them intentionally and munch mindfully. 


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