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Eating Well While Traveling

by Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, and Angela Hepner, MEd, RD, LD, CDE

On the minus side, portion control is up to the individual, and it can be difficult when surrounded by so much temptation. Some tips that can help you to eat moderately are listed in “Take-Away Dining Tips” and “Using Your Hands to Estimate Portions.”

When traveling by air, planning for food is a must. On many flights, no food is served, and even when it is, it may not fit well into your meal plan.

Start by noting whether food will be served (or sold) on your flight and what will be available — full meals, snacks, or only beverages. Your reservation record should include this information, and you can often find details on an airline’s meal service options on its Web site. However, as the airlines themselves caution, “Product selections may vary and may not be available on all flights.” In addition, you never know when a flight will be delayed, possibly also delaying your meal or keeping you en route for much longer than you expected.

To avoid going hungry, always bring some food in your carry-on bag. Choose foods that travel well and that won’t spoil quickly at room temperature. You can buy food at most airports, but your choices may be limited, and you can’t count on having time to make a food purchase; a delay getting to the airport or an unexpectedly tight connection may have you scurrying to your gate. Being prepared with some food from home guarantees that you’ll have something to tide you over.

While most planes have water as a complimentary beverage option, it may depend on the length of the flight and/or the level of cabin service. Once you have cleared security at the airport, it may be wise to purchase a bottle of water (or fill your refillable bottle) to carry on board. It’s also a good idea to bring a nonliquid hypoglycemia treatment such as glucose tablets with you to avoid trouble at security and to have a quick remedy on hand.
If you do need a carbohydrate-containing drink to raise your blood glucose level while flying, ask a flight attendant. Most planes carry beverages, and flight attendants are generally accommodating in situations such as this.

Your destination
Your destination can have a big effect on your dining options. If you’re going to a large, Westernized city, you should be able to find familiar foods pretty easily. However, if you’re going to a small, isolated town or a developing country, your food choices may be limited and/or largely unfamiliar. And even if you can get familiar foods, often part of the fun of traveling to another part of the world is trying new foods. So it always makes sense to find out ahead of time what the local cuisine is like and — as best as possible — how it will fit into your meal plan.

These days, it’s possible to look up the cuisine of almost any country or part of the world on the Internet and learn about common ingredients and popular dishes in the area. Write down the names of any unfamiliar foods, as well as the names of familiar foods in the local language. Make a note of which foods are fruits, vegetables, and starches (or starchy vegetables), and which foods are meats or other protein sources. Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re eating, knowing what type of food you’re eating will help you estimate the amount of carbohydrate and other nutrients on your plate.

Your accommodations
Your choice of accommodations can affect your eating options during a trip. If you stay in a rental unit or hotel room with a full kitchen, you may be able to prepare some or all of your meals yourself — as long as you can shop locally for groceries or bring food with you from home.

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Also in this article:
Take-Away Dining Tips
Using Your Hands to Estimate Portions



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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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