Pilots Guide to
travel meal prepping
By: Aubrey Warrick
The travel binge
All professional travelers, pilots and passengers alike, face the same health related challenges; hours of sedentary travel followed by meal after meal of meetings, crew outings, cocktail hours, and local indulgences. It's no wonder, even a year into this amazing career, even with your typical hotel gym routine still intact, you will no doubt pack on some unwanted weight. You know the ever so common saying, "you are what you eat"? Well don't be fast, cheap or easy! It's going to take some extra time carved out of your week, somewhere in your crazy schedule, to make a transformation happen. Trust me when I say, it won't be easy, but it most certainly will be worth it!!
Heck, if you can't find the time to meal prep, I challenge you to forego one day of your exercise routine and use that time in the kitchen and I guarantee you will see better results in a month!
30 days gym with no change in diet
30 days gym with change in diet
TRAVEL FRIENDLY TOOLS
Every good pilot and professional traveler has trialed and errored their way through piecing together their ideal and perfect flight bag full of optimum tools for their journey. Let's start with gathering the proper tools, for your new weekly ritual; a personal pre-flight, if you will. I have tested various containers against altitude compromise, sealing in freshness, keeping food for long journeys between refrigeration and multiple cleaning durability. Here's what's in my tool kit:
(CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO ORDER)
Or try this starter kit
KITCHEN FOOD SCALE
20 OZ SQUARE FOOD CONTAINERS
24 OZ round food containers
AUBREY's favorite travel wellness APPS
CLEAN FUEL FOR YOUR ENGINE
If you're a pilot flying an airplane, and you find out the fuel you have been putting into your engine is contaminated, you risk your engine quitting and subsequently creating an in-flight emergency. Your body is your jet engine, and your fuel is food. If you put dirty complex foods into your body, you're going to run rough. you're going to feel crummy all day, and you will eventually crash.
So what are good clean foods you can burn all day long feeling at your optimum level?
Unlimited cruciferous veggies. Eat until you're full on these nutrient dense babies!
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Like other vegetables, they’re high in fiber and tend to be incredibly filling.
What's more, these types of veggies generally contain a decent amounts of protein.
They're not nearly as high in protein as animal foods or legumes but still high compared to most vegetables.
A combination of protein, fiber and low energy density makes cruciferous vegetables the perfect foods to include in your meals if you need to lose weight. They’re also highly nutritious and contain cancer-fighting substances.
Other veggies are fine to incorporate in moderation. Other vegetables that aid in weight loss include spinach, mushrooms, chilies, pumpkin, carrots, asparagus and cucumbers.
Proteins are key for pilots. Especially when there's a lack of schedule. It's not like we get to break for lunch in the middle of a flight. Sometimes I will go 8 hours without being able to eat. (I am sure others not in aviation can relate). Proteins will keep you feeling full longer and keep your energy and focus up. The best proteins to incorporate in your new way of eating are:
lean chicken, beef, eggs, tuna, salmon, shrimp, bison, turkey. And the non-meat lean proteins are beans, lentils, cottage cheese and yogurt.
While fruits are key to a well-balanced diet, they are still packed with some serious sugar so be cautious of your fruit choices. My staple in the cockpit is actually green grapes (caution, they are high in sugar so eat these sparingly). These babies fill my tummy and keep me hydrated without having to drink water when I don't have access to a restroom way up there. Another random tip I learned along my travels is choosing the right banana; More green bananas are much lower in sugar than their sweet yellow and spotty brown older friends in the bunch. As bananas ripen, their sugar content actually triples. Other simple sugared fruity friends are strawberries, oranges or clementines, and apples. Berries and melons are high in sugar so utilize these for desert options.
I use complex carbs sparingly! Oats, potatoes, quinoa, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), whole grain rice and whole wheat bread. These options tend to keep weight around my midsection so I have learned through trial and error to steer clear as best as I can. Maybe you will be more lucky to consume these sparingly for extra energy (as long as you are active).
While I prefer to cook with low sodium broths in leu of healthy fats, I do incorporate some of my top favorites on occasion when I get out of that cockpit and get active. My first love is coconut oil. I not only use it all over my body and hair but I cook with it, put it in coffee for a natural pre-workout, and I rub it on my dogs fur for a shine and softening effect (yes to all the coconut things!). Coconut oil is amazing! My number two preference is avocado oil and olive oil is third. Stay clear of over processed hydrogenated oils and peanut oils which are high in bad fats and don't break down well in your body.
While I get my sugar intake mainly from fruits, if I have to curb that sweet tooth, my secret staple is Stevia! Stay away from aspartame and other artificial sweeteners because they actually make you hungrier. I have lots of fun substitutes that I order and keep on hand from gums to drops to soda-pops. You can find these staples here in my earlier article "Sweet Sweet Revenge".
Liquid Stevia, gum and soda
(CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO TRY)
TYPICAL COFFEE FLAVORS
DON'T OVER FUEL YOUR JET ENGINE!
Any good pilot knows, weight and balance is a crucial part to pre-flighting your plane. It's the same for your body to keep in mind while you're meal prepping; If your plane is overweight it's going to be hard and dangerous to get off the ground with longer runway lengths required, higher airspeeds and more work on the pilot. In retrospect, If your body over eats, you are going to run rough, sluggish and not want to do anything productive throughout the day.
Portion control can be looked at 3 ways:
- weight loss
- weight maintainability
- Weight gain
I actually measure my foods as accurate as I can with a food scale when I need to lose weight and I "eyeball" with some comparison tricks when I am out at restaurants or just wanting to maintain my current weight. Refer to the plates below far a good visual on each category.
PRO TRAVEL TIPS FOR RESTAURANT ORDING
- IF YOU CAN HELP IT, DON'T LOOK AT A MENU. ORDER A PROTEIN, AND DOUBLE VEGGIES BOTH NOT COOKED IN OIL OR A PROTEIN AND SALAD WITH A LEMON HALF FOR DRESSING
-ITS OK TO BE PICKY WITH YOUR WAITER; ASK FOR NO OIL, CHEESE, OR BREADS WITH YOUR MEAL (AFTER ALL, THEY GET TIPPED EITHER WAY!)
-DON'T DRINK YOUR CALORIES! WATER AND LEMON/LIME AND KEEP 'EM COMING!
-IF YOU ARE GOING TO DRINK WITH YOUR CREW, VODKA WATER OR SODA WATER AND LEMON/LIME IS YOUR SAFEST BET
FLIGHT BAG SNACKS
(CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO TRY)
-LISTEN TO YOUR BODY; IF YOU NEED MORE, EAT MORE. TRY TO FILL UP ON VEGGIES FIRST.
-SALT AND PEPPER (JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE) IS ALRIGHT IN MODERATION. ALSO TRY Mrs. Dash IN ALL SORTS OF FLAVORS
-CARRY SNACKS IN YOUR FLIGHT BAG OR CARRY-ON, AND DON'T LET YOURSELF GET HANGRY (HUNGRY + ANGRY)
-DRINK HALF YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN OUNCES OF WATER EVERY DAY
-BLACK COFFEE, TEA, AND LEMON WEDGES ARE UNLIMITED
-GET MOVING. NO MATTER HOW LITTLE OR HOW MUCH, JUST GET YOUR DANG BODY IN MOTION (AND NO, SITTING IN FORWARD MOTION IN THE PLANE DOESN'T COUNT HA-HA)