Any diet can be difficult to maintain during times of travel, especially one with as many restrictions as a ketogenic or low-carbohydrate diet. As a professional flight attendant in the traveling industry and aficionado of the ketogenic and low-carb lifestyles, I have composed a list of my top ten easy tips to help stick to your diet while traveling.
1. Avoid airplane snacks.
Although some airlines offer some great alternatives, most of the time the options for free and purchasable snacks on the plane are highly processed, unhealthy, or carb- and sugar-laden. Either plan to eat ahead of time or bring suitable food options with you. You may even want to pack an iced food bag, especially if you are part of a flight crew!
2. Avoid sugary drinks.
You’ll want to avoid fruit juices and sodas on planes, but you also want to steer clear of all of the sugary options in the airport. It can be very tempting to grab a caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks, but don’t give in. Instead, opt for a sugar-free tea, coffee with heavy whipping cream and cinnamon, or soda water with lime. (I actually didn’t start drinking soda water until I became a flight attendant, but it’s a great carbonated substitute for typical sodas filled with nasty chemicals and sugar!)
3. Carry a water bottle.
When you’re hungry, many times all you actually need is water. We’ve all heard that. And sometimes you’re thirsty, but water isn’t readily available. ALWAYS carry a water bottle with you and refill as needed. Many airports have water fountains near the restrooms. You can also buy a bottle of water from an airport shop if you forget yours at home. When in the very dry environment of a plane for several hours, you will likely need extra water to stay hydrated. (Note: Do NOT refill your water bottle or drink water from the airplane lavatories. This is for washing only. Ask your flight attendant for water if you run out.)
4. Research airport and hotel food options ahead of time.
Some airports are massive and have lots of options when it comes to restaurants. Others are highly lacking. The same could be said for hotels. Some have comprehensive menus with decent food options while others don’t have a restaurant at all but may be close to other food establishments. It’s a good idea to Google this kind of information ahead of time to figure out what your options are if you think you will need to eat out. (Note: One of my favorite food options is a salad or burrito bowl without rice and beans from Chipotle! They now even have a designated Keto Bowl!)
5. Pack or buy a salad.
This is as good as an idea for travel as it is for home! Consuming a healthy salad each day of travel will help ensure you are receiving the right type and volume of nutrients. The little bit of carbohydrates this offers should be adding a lot of natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your travel diet. (Note: I almost always eat the same homemade salad every day during travel: 50/50 greens blend with organic cherry tomatoes, sprouted pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, avocado, and Primal Kitchen ranch dressing.)
6. Eat avocados.
Avocados are an amazing superfood packed with vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and healthy fats. Fat will help keep you satiated and absorb other nutrients, so I usually eat this with my salad. Remember to bring proper utensils for your avocado or grab some from the airport food court if you forget! Also, make sure your avocado will be ripe at the right time!
7. Embrace fasting.
When you are fat-adapted (via ketogenic or low-carb diets), fasting is much easier. When you adopt a practice of fasting, you will likely not need to eat as much nor as often. Make sure you look at your flight or travel schedule ahead of time and plan accordingly, as you don’t want to get stuck with an empty stomach for too long. (Note: I typically stop eating about six hours before bed, so I sleep through the most difficult part of the fast.)
8. Take a green supplement.
This is another measure to ensure that your body is receiving nutrients. It’s a security blanket for me, especially when traveling. My personal favorite is Organifi Green Juice, which can be purchased in travel packets at the same price and quantity of one container (30 servings). Organifi juice is organic, soy free, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan.
9. Pack long-lasting snacks.
You never know when your travel plans will be disrupted by weather, maintenance, or some other unholy act of God. BE PREPARED. Bring snacks that won’t go rancid without refrigeration. Some of my personal favorites include nuts (pistachios, macadamia nuts, walnuts), EPIC bars, Nick’s Sticks, canned sardines, pork rinds, and instant broth.
10. Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol dehydrates you and adds calories (and often additional carbs and sugar) to your diet. It also impairs your judgment and can leave you prone to eating more food. Need to relax? Substitute for a delicious hot tea instead. (Note: I recently decided to stop drinking on work trips and cut down on alcohol consumed at home to better align with my health and wellness goals.)
There you have it! Whether you are an avid traveler or part of a flight crew, these tips will help you maintain your ketogenic or low-carb lifestyle during travel. If this list seems a bit daunting, start with one or two tips to apply to your routine next time you fly. Remember, building small habits over time is a big part of making lasting changes! For more information on healthy nutrition while traveling or while in other ever-changing environments, be sure to check out www.justplanehealthy.com!
Kristel Crame is a flight attendant of over four years and a life-long learner with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of South Florida. She is also currently studying with the Institute of Transformational Nutrition to become a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach. She loves to hike, snowboard, garden, cook, read, and spend time with her two cats and loving partner, Justin.
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