Maintaining Your Waistline When You Travel

By Ellen Loreck, MS, RD, LDN
Director, Clinical Nutrition Services

How do you eat healthy and maintain your weight when you have long flights ahead and eat out almost every night? Due to the limited variety of food on flights, many of us indulge in numerous fast foods before boarding. Also, we may choose beverages that can be dehydrating. Prior to getting on a plane, it is important to remember these tips.


Dehydration is a concern when you are flying. Since there is a lower level of oxygen available, you breathe faster and increase your water loss. It is best to try to drink 8-16 ounces of water prior to flight departure and aim for at least 8 ounces for every hour on the flight. You may want to consider limiting alcoholic or caffeinated beverages that may contribute to dehydration. Remember that you cannot take any liquid beverages through security so hydrating is important prior to getting to the airport.

Pack Snacks!

Most airlines have cut back on serving food on planes. Packing healthy snacks from home helps you stay on track with your healthy eating and are friendly to your wallet. Here are suggestions of ideas to bring in your carry-on that are high protein, low fat, lower in sugar and contain fiber:

  • Nuts
  • Small package of water-packed tuna with whole grain crackers
  • Rice cakes and low fat cheese
  • Fat-free pudding
  • Protein bar
  • Low fat granola with at least 3 g fiber
  • ½ peanut butter sandwich
  • Raw veggies and small container of hummus

If choosing fast food at the airport, remember:

1. Aim for filling half your plate with vegetables or fruit by looking for salads and broth-based soups.

2. Limit high-calorie condiments, such as cream in coffee, mayo or full-calorie salad dressing.

3. Select grilled, steamed, stir-fried or poached menu items.

4. Be careful with smoothies and coffee drinks since many of these items contain more calories than a meal.

5. Limit fried foods, cream-based sauces and foods covered with cheese.

6. Many fast food restaurants have nutrition facts for their menu items so that you keep track of your calorie intake.

7. Check out the map of the airport before your flight for healthy food options near your gate.

Indulge Wisely!

1. Remember not to confuse hunger with boredom or anxiety.

2. Enjoy local foods and cuisine while on vacation.

3. Forgive yourself if you overindulge one day.

4. Make sure to sit down and really savor foods versus eat them just because you are hungry.


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