Take Off Those Calories

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

The summer holidays are here and for many of us that means jetting off to exotic climes – and leaving our diets behind. But if you want to avoid returning from your holiday with loads of excess baggage, you’ll still need to eat and drink reasonably sensibly – and that begins from the moment you step foot on the plane!

Believe it or not, research shows that flying can play havoc with our digestive systems as well as our body clock. The low cabin pressure makes digestion sluggish and the gases in our stomach can expand by as much as 30 percent, leaving us with swollen tummies and terrible wind. Meanwhile, the low humidity on board can make us dehydrated. Then there’s the food itself.

One survey conducted on a US carrier showed that an airline meal provides a staggering 950 calories – almost half the calories needed by a woman to keep her weight steady – and that’s without any extra snacks or drinks. Many of us also find we ‘eat our way through the flight’ to fight the boredom, filling up on free food and drink supplied by the air stewards and dipping into our own supply of fatty and sugary snacks carried on in our hand luggage. Added to this, there’s no opportunity to burn off the calories by exercising.

WLR says:

We’re not trying to ruin your holiday, but remember it’s little changes that make big differences when it comes to keeping off those pounds you’ve already lost. So follow these tips when you’re on board:

  • Find out whether you’ll receive a meal on the flight and if so, avoid filling up on fast food and snacks at the airport – even if you’re not hungry, chances are you’ll still eat the meal on the plane out of boredom.
  • Some airlines offer ‘low-fat’ meals so see if you can pre-order one – but give at least 24 hours notice.
  • Give the complimentary snacks served with drinks a miss -– a couple of bags of these can add up to around 150 calories.
  • Don’t go overboard on alcohol, even if it’s free. Too much will make you even more dehydrated, give you a headache and pile on the calories. Plus, dehydration can make jet lag far worse – an even better reason to stick with water, especially if you’re on a long-haul flight.
  • Don’t be tempted to quench thirst with too much free fruit juice – each glass contains around 50 calories. Water is a much better choice.
  • Most spirits come in double measures, so allow 100 calories for each bottle of gin, vodka, whisky or rum – and mix them with slimline tonic or diet cola.
  • Allow 150 calories for each small bottle of wine and around 100 calories for a can of beer.
  • It’s all the extras that have the potential to pile on the pounds – the butter with the roll, the dressing with the salad, the cheese and biscuits and the after-dinner chocolate. Avoid them if you can.
  • Take some fresh or dried fruit in your hand luggage to have instead of the dessert or to nibble on if you get the munchies (although bear in mind if you don’t eat it, some countries may not let you take it into the country).

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