Nutrition & COVID-19 Series: Staying Healthy During Travel
Whether you are traveling for holidays or work, you may feel stressed at the thought of a journey filled with long queues, crowds, and new flight regulations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow the food and nutrition guidelines below to ensure you stay healthy while traveling and minimize stress.
Plan your snacks in advance
Carry nutritious snacks with you while traveling since options during travel may be limited. This strategy will enable you to eat regularly, alleviate your hunger, and manage your stress levels.
Recommended snacks include raw, unsalted nuts, homemade trail mix made with whole-grain cereal, and dried fruit. Fresh fruit, such as apples and bananas, and whole-grain, low-sugar snack bars are easy to pack. If these are not permitted to take through security, you can purchase after passing security.
Airport food options
If you do not have time to pack snacks, look for nourishing, properly packaged options in airport shops and restaurants. High-fiber granola bars, pretzels, peanut butter crackers, packs of peanuts, hummus, and fruit are all great options.
Airport restaurants serve a variety of nutritious meals to suit many preferences. Choose healthy options such as Mediterranean salads rich in vegetables and beans or grilled chicken and salmon.
You can also buy a packaged salad or sandwich and take it on the plane with you. To prevent foodborne illness, you should consume your fresh food items within two hours of purchase. Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after eating to minimize the effects of germs.
What to drink
Staying hydrated during your trip is very important. Drink plenty of water to fight fatigue, keep your immune system healthy, and fight off germs. Carry a reusable empty bottle and fill it up at a drinking fountain once you get through security. You can also ask the crew on the plane to fill it up for you when you are on board.
Tips for travelers with dietary restrictions
It may be a challenge to find food for individuals with special dietary restrictions, although many more options are available than a few years ago. Vegetarian or vegan travelers should find that global cuisine offers many suitable options. For example, Mexican restaurants serve bean burritos/tortillas, Italian restaurants offer tomato-based dishes, pesto pasta, or vegetarian pizza, and in Middle Eastern restaurants hummus, falafel, and couscous salads are a staple.
The best advice is to research your options ahead of time. Search the airport's website and find out precisely what eating places are available in your terminal. Make sure you have time in your travel schedule to order food. If you do not like the idea of eating in a restaurant, eat a meal before you head to the airport and bring nutritious, satisfying snacks with you.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND): https://www.eatright.org/health/lifestyle/travel/health-takes-flight
- CDC: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/traveler-information-center
- Foodsafety.gov: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/4-steps-to-food-safety
Dima El-Halabi, MSc, RDN
College of Health Sciences
Abu Dhabi University