How hard is it to eat healthy on the road? For many travelers, it's almost impossible. Take airline food, for example. A spring 2000 study by online health site eFit suggests it's healthier to consume a McDonald's Big Mac, french fries and a strawberry sundae than to eat most airline dinners. Although the airline industry says it's working hard to upgrade its in-flight menus, health-food advocates remain unhappy. "In many cases, the new meals are fattier and saltier than the ones they're replacing," says John Banzhaf III, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University.
Not so, says Bob Rosar, corporate executive chef for airline caterer Gate Gourmet Division Americas in Memphis, Tennessee. "We're seeing a real increase in the quality of the food. Ten years ago, airlines were [reputed to serve] a lot of 'mystery' food full of starch and fats and covered in gravy. Now we hardly see a chicken breast with skin anymore," says Rosar. "Airlines are more health-conscious than they've ever been."
Even so, taken together with roadside fast-food joints and room-service menus, staying healthy while traveling is a big challenge. The following tips should help:
Order a special meal. Vegetarian meals or fruit plates often not only taste better than what everyone else in coach class is served but are also healthier.
Bring your own food. Whether you're taking a long road trip, staying at a hotel for a few days or flying, consider a stop at the grocery store beforehand.
Eat selectively. Skip fatty items like butter, and leave the dessert where you found it. Be picky when the beverage cart comes by: Choose bottled water or seltzer over soda or an alcoholic beverage.
Don't eat at all. Sometimes, chowing down while on the move upsets your stomach anyway, so why not wait until you've come to a complete standstill?
Christopher Elliott is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact him at www.elliott.org.
- Gate Gourmet Division Americas, (901) 766-3271, www.gategourmet.com
Christopher Elliott is an Orlando, Fla., writer and independent producer who specializes in technology, travel and mobile computing. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and online. You can find out more about him on his website or sign up for his free weekly newsletter.