Weight gain is one of the common side effects of a trip. While you have fun eating new cuisines, your exercise routine goes for a toss and you are not as careful about diet. It all builds up to weight gain, and the process starts right from the time you reach the airport and start eating junk food. To stop weight gain and have a healthy journey, you need to follow some smart diet travel tips and understand how to stay fit while on the move. And while it is tempting you may need to rethink your policy on alcohol during flights.
“The best strategy to plan well in advance. Think about where you will be eating your breakfast, lunch and dinner, and what kind of hygienic food will be available,” says Shabana Sameer, senior dietician, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai.
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During a flight, reduced air pressure makes your bodily functions slow down and digestion gets sluggish. Airplane meals are also high in calories and carbs. Sameer says that carbs like bread, rice pasta and noodles are best avoided, especially on long flights. “Reducing your carbohydrate intake will reduce fluid retention in the body, and the total amount of food in the digestive tract, which further reduces bloating. Your system tends to go in overdrive to digest fatty and salty food. As a result, you feel tired and lethargic,” she says.
Opt for a light meal before leaving from home instead of completely skipping a meal, which can result in indigestion or lead you to consume too many calories at your next meal. “Carry some portable snacks like nuts, dry fruits, or fresh fruit to help you through the long check-in and upon arrival. For short duration flights, in-flight meals can be brought from home (and can include a roti roll, sandwich or poha). For longer flights, you can take a homemade meal and one hot in-flight meal (like rice and beans) instead of packed juices, muffins and cakes,” says Munmun Ganeriwal, nutritionist and fitness consultant and founder, Yuktahaar.
Here are some more expert recommended tips to stay fit and not gain weight while travelling:
Drink lots of water. During a flight, you need to consume more water to avoid dehydration. “You tend to feel twice as hungry when you become dehydrated. It leads to an increase in the amount of fat and calories consumed. Water is also a great appetite suppressant,” says Sameer.
It’s not just about your diet. You need to also follow a simple exercise regimen to maintain your weight. Move your arms and shoulders to stretch all the muscles and relieve aches caused by sitting still for long. “Walking the aisles is one of the easiest ways to get some exercise on the plane, though it’s tricky if you’re in a small craft. On a larger plane, do loops of both aisles every 15 minutes. Or head to the back of the plane, and do lunges and toe touches in the aisle,” says Sameer.
While ordering food in-flight, opt for grilled dishes rather than fried dishes. Avoiding processed and fried food, sugary items and white bread, because such foods may make you feel tired and unsatisfied,” says Sameer.
Drinking coffee and alcohol on flights should be avoided. Instead, sip on water, buttermilk, lemon water, and coconut water to rehydrate. “Alcohol and caffeine can be dehydrating and can interfere with your sleep cycle,” says Sameer.
If you must drink, have a drink per hour with water as “drink spacers” between alcoholic beverages. “It takes one hour for the liver to completely digest a standard drink. Sipping on the drink slowly and staying hydrated keeps the liver from being overloaded. It enables a person to maintain a safe blood alcohol concentration (BAC),” says Ganeriwal.
Always do a bit of research about good eating places before leaving for your holiday. “Look out for places that serve fresh, local food. Order salads along with a main course when travelling around Europe, or opt for rice and curry if you are on a holiday in Asia. Order dessert as a separate meal and avoid having it post a big meal,” says Ganeriwal.
Don’t just focus on the calories. Instead, look for the freshness of the meal: how fresh are the ingredients, or how freshly it is prepared. “Avoid pre-packaged sandwiches that are prepared a long time back and kept on the shelves,” says Ganeriwal.
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