August 11, 2011

Healthy airline food (and wine!)

Today’s Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article highlighting the food on various airlines, and how healthy it is (or really, how unhealthy it is). I found this quote particularly telling:

While most airlines had some sort of healthy offering, coach buy-on-board menus are laden with high-calorie salty foods that may be particularly bad for people who get dehydrated on long flights.

Um, yeah, I’ll say! If I know I’m going to be traveling during mealtime, I try my best to get to the airport with at least a few minutes to spare. There usually isn’t a really extensive menu in the airport terminal either, but I find the options there to be much better than what’s on board. For example, I can get a turkey and cheese sandwich at Starbucks, take off the cheese, and take off the top layer of bread. It’s still not nearly as many veggies as I want in a meal, but it’s not bad.

Compare that to the onboard options: sandwiches that are already pre-spread with mayonnaise and other high-cal condiments. Or, more common, the “snack boxes” where they package lots of things together. JetBlue, one of my favorite airlines, offers five different options for snack boxes, including one called the “Shape Up” box. “If you’re jetting to a swimsuit destination, we highly recommend the super-healthy and great-tasting Shape Up box.” They say. But let’s look at what’s included:

Wild Garden™ Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

New York Style® Pita Chips

Sheffa Zesty Snack Mix

Emerald® Natural Almonds

Sun-Maid® Raisins

Brothers All Natural Asian Pear Fruit Crisps

I like the Wild Garden hummus (I often eat it at the Delta Sky Clubs, with carrot and celery sticks). The pita chips and snack mix, though, are pure carbs – and without really any fiber to make them a palatable option. Almonds are good (protein + healthy fat, though a tad higher in calories than I’d like, given my penchant for popping them in my mouth several at a time and munching for a good long time. Raisins are pretty high in sugar, and again, suffer from the same malady as the almonds: too high in calories for an unsatisfying volume of food. And finally, I like Brothers fruit crisps, but why can’t I just get an regular pear instead of a less-satisfying dehydrated version? Volumetrics, people!

I understand that the airlines need to keep non-perishable foods, and I completely understand that dilemma. I find it very tough to find healthy non-perishable items to keep in my laptop bag for emergencies (sometimes I would kil for some fruits/veggies but all I have is a protein bar!). However, given that airlines have a ton of turnover in passengers and should be able to go through food a lot faster than I can go through the reserves in my laptop bag, can’t they bring some salads on board every few flights? I suppose a girl can dream.

In other travel + Absolut(ly) Fit related news: Skyscanner conducted a taste test of the best airline wines. The winners? EasyJet for whites, British Airways for reds. Guess I need to find myself a project across the pond!


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