Tips for Eating Healthy On a Plane Domestic Vs International Flights

When it comes to traveling and maintaining your diet, it can be so hard to stick with it especially while traveling. Eating healthy can look differently during travel so we hope to give you insight on how to honor your health routine even when when you are 35,000 feet above!

If you are dedicated to your healthy eating habits, stick around to see what we practice when we travel and hopefully you can take one of these tips and tricks with you next time you take flight.

Here are our top tips for eating healthy on a plane:

  • Understand What Food You Can and Cannot Take To The Airport
  • Learn and Follow the 3-1-1 Rule
  • Check What Food And Beverages the Airport And Airline Offers
  • Order A Special Meal Ahead Of Time With Your Airline
  • Pack And Prepare Your Own Food According To Flight Length
  • Eat A Good Meal Before Heading To The Airport
  • Stay Hydrated: Bring An Empty Water Bottle To Fill Up 

Two Suitcases At The Airport

Understand What Food You Can and Cannot Take To The Airport

We all know that flying comes with certain rules regulations on what you can and can’t bring on your flight.  This section is to help you understand regulations on bringing your own food through security so you can keep up your health goals even while traveling.

    In order to understand the types of food you will be able to take onto the plane, you will need to check with your governing body's rules and regulations on this matter.  For U.S. citizens, take a look at TSA's Approved Food Items.

      >>> It is worth it to note that when you fly internationally, the country you are arriving to may confiscate your food so just pack enough for your flight.  Although hopefully you will be able to plan ahead with the airline if you require special meals (more about this later in the article).

      Below we have listed a few items we know that you can and cannot bring aboard but these are just a guideline.  Ultimately the government agencies from your departure and arrival countries will be the authority on this matter so be sure to check with them before travel!

      General list of foods you can and can't bring on the plane:

      What you can bring:
      • Cereal
      • Cheese (under 3.4 oz)
      • Cooked meat
      • Crackers
      • Oatmeal
      • Dried fruit
      • Fresh fruit & veggies (within the U.S., check international rules)
      • Hummus (under 3.4 oz)
      • Nuts
       
      What you can’t bring
      • Creamy cheeses
      • Salsa
      • Soup
      • Peanut butter
      • Nutella
      • Dips & spread
      • Honey
      • Jam & jelly
       
       

        

      3-1-1 TSA Example Bag

      Learn And follow The 3-1-1 Rule

      Here in the US we also have a 3-1-1 rule that we need to abide by when traveling.  This rule can be viewed on TSA's Liquid Rule Informational Page but in short this rule can be understood as:

      • 3 - three ounce containers or smaller
      • 1 - one clear, quart sized bag
      • 1 - one bag per traveler

      If you’re planning on traveling within the U.S., or internationally soon, please make sure to read each airline-specific guidelines when it comes to which food items you can and can’t bring in your carry-on luggage. Some airlines have different rules, and if items are over 3.4 FL oz, they can typically be brought in your carry-on.

      Food Served on the Airplane

      Check What Food And Beverages the Airport And Airline Offers

      Before you fly check out this awesome resource on over 150 Food and Beverage Menus from Airlines around the world.  Someone put a lot of time and effort to put these together so make sure to put them to use!

      It's important to check what the airline offers during in-flight service because people have come up with some creative DIY meals using resources available to them on flights.

      For instance every flight has hot water for tea but you can also use it for:

      • oatmeal
      • instant noodles
      • miso soup
      • or any other item that requires hot water to cook your simple meal

      Domestically this is a good option if you want to have a snack of your choice but for extended flights be sure to connect with your airline on special meal requirements so that you may meet your health goals.

      Special Healthy Airplane Meal

      Order A Special Meal With Your Airline Ahead Of Time

      If you contact your airline at least 24 hours before flight they can usually arrange for a special meal to be brought to you during the scheduled meal service.

      Special meals can be dietary restrictions or religious reasons such as:

      • Vegetarian Meals
      • Gluten Intolerant Meals
      • Hindu Meals
      • Muslim Meals
      • Kosher Meals
      • And many many more

        If you have a special requirement, and if the airline offers this service (if the flight is long enough) be sure to voice what you need because Im sure they'll have it!

        Additionally, after you get through security you can bring whatever you want to on the plane if purchased from the Airport.

        If there are no healthy options to chose from for your dietary needs take a look at the convenience pop up stores at airports they are more likely to have items that are more health oriented and "whole" foods usually selling whole products like apples and bananas. Meal Prep For Flights

        Pack And Prepare Your Own Food According To Flight Length

        Packing your own snacks is the easiest way to remain healthy while traveling because you are already aware of what you eat and can control what you pack.

        If you have some core snacks that you always eat, that are part of your healthy diet, and you know they fill you up, pack those. That way, you don’t have to worry if you’re over your calorie count for the day, and you know exactly what you’re eating.  Pack your own snacks and feel good knowing that you’re staying on track!

         Our top snacks for long flights

        Finding healthy snacks that are TSA approved can be SO difficult. We’ve tried just about everything and trust us when we say that having to throw out your favorite snacks is awful.

        You can avoid ruining your diet or weight loss journey by pre-packing your favorite healthy snacks so you can stick to your diet!  After a lot of traveling, here are our top 5 healthy snacks for long flights:

        1. Overnight oats
        Because overnight oats don’t require any warming up, these are the perfect snacks for long flights. Overnight oats are a great healthy snack option that you can make the night before your trip, throw it in your bag, and eat it at any point throughout your flight. While it is a snack that is typically refrigerated, this is a great snack option for you to eat for an early morning flight.
        2. Trail mix
        Another favorite healthy snack we ALWAYS travel with is trail mix. Since it’s not a liquid, you can bring a big bag of trail mix that you can eat any time during your flight. If you like the trail mix, you’re bringing, you’re more likely to eat it during your long flight. Trail mix is a great option if you always need a mix of salty and sweet snacks! 
        3. Granola
        We don’t know about you, but we have found a granola that we can’t live (or travel) without. We love to just pack up a Ziploc bag of our granola and we can pick at it whenever we want! Granola comes in a lot of different varieties but I prefer to make it myself so I know exactly what goes in it.
        4. Freeze-dried fruit
        If your diet consists of a lot of fruits but you don’t like traveling with fresh fruit (which we don’t blame you), bringing freeze-dried fruit is a great, healthy alternative. Whether it be freeze-dried apples or banana chips, these are great options to fulfill your sweet tooth while sticking to your healthy diet!
        5. Mixed nuts
        One of the most common, healthy snacking options there is: mixed nuts. In any diet where your main goal is to lose weight is nuts. Nuts are a great source of protein – meaning they will help to make you feel full and energized. Similar to trail mix, you can bring as big of a container or mixed nuts as you want so you can snack your entire flight if you want!
        Bonus: additional items to consider
        • Rice Cakes
        • Jerky
        • Your favorite tea 

        A Note on Packing small liquid(ish) snacks:

        If you eat yogurt, applesauce on the regular and that’s a big player in your snacking game, you may not always be able to bring it with you due to TSA regulations on liquids. To avoid any issues when going through security, you can always bring small snack packs as long as each container is under 3.4 fl oz. Or if you’re worried about those snack packs not making it through the flight, you can pack your own liquid-y snacks in leakproof containers. This is a great way to continue healthy snacking while you’re flying to your destination. But be cautious about opening these snacks when you reach high altitudes!

        Healthy breakfast

        Eat A Good Meal Before Heading To The Airport

        Find a healthy breakfast option

          No matter where you’re flying to or from, every airport has some sort of healthy food option. If you’re flying in the morning, you can always find a healthier breakfast option that isn’t McDonalds. Any airport you’re in has options like Starbucks where you can get oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, or trail mix. Seek out a healthier snack or food option for all your airport meals so you can stay on track and work towards your health goals even when you’re traveling. 

          Eat meals before your flight

            When it comes to meals that are served on planes (typically only on longer flights), they aren’t the healthiest meals. Do some research on the different food options at the airports you’ll be in, and choose the healthiest option. By eating meals before your flight, you can customize what you want, and you’ll have a lot more healthy options than you would if you waited to eat the meal they served on your flight.

            And of course eat a good meal before you even leave for the airport to start your journey off on the right foot! Black and White water botltles

            Stay Hydrated: Bring An Empty Water Bottle To Fill Up

            If you don’t already know this, you will now. Water fills you up and can curb your appetite. Drinking more water has so many benefits for you, including making you feel full especially if you just ate and probably aren't reeeeally hungry and moreso feeling hunger cravings.. Water takes up a lot of space in your stomach, so if you just ate one of your pre-packed snacks and you still feel hungry, drink some water and you’ll feel your cravings go away.

            Other than that dehydration can bring on hunger like feelings when it is actually just water that your body needs and not calories.

            I always bring a water bottle with me to fill up at airport shops or restaurants but if the thought of tap water doesn't excite you just make sure to purchase enough water to last through your flight as attendants are sometimes busy with other people and you will want access to water whenever you need it :) Departing for a flight

            Final Thoughts

            Traveling is so much fun and there will be plenty of new food to try once you get to your destination. This article was just to help you through the flight process, but we will follow up with another article shortly about tips and tricks to staying healthy while abroad.

            We know how hard it is to stick to a healthy diet while traveling, don't be hard on yourself, try your best and that is enoug :)

            Stay safe and healthy & safe travels ahead!