Healthy food for long haul flights

Healthy food for long haul flights
Trying to eat healthily and stay nourished whilst travelling can be a tricky business, so we asked healthy chef Hayley North to share her tips. Here she tells us about eating and drinking healthily on long haul flights.

Not only are long haul flights disorientating, they also play havoc with our bodies, particularly the digestive system. Staying well hydrated is the most important thing, as is moving your body as often as possible. It’s best to avoid what airlines serve, and bring your own food. You can buy some great packaging now such as the clip top food safe tupperware that’s light in your luggage. Generally it is fine to travel with your own food on aeroplanes, but it is always best to double check. Do not take any wet foods such as porridge, smoothies or yogurt as you will not get them through check-in. If it is not possible to take your own food and you must eat at the airport, then try and find an outlet such as Pret or Eat which stock relatively healthy options.

  •  Healthy Tips:

* For a night flight, prepare yourself well with a light and nourishing supper before you leave for the airport – such as steamed or simply grilled fish with roasted vegetables and a large portion of mixed steamed greens with lemon juice

* For a day flight, prepare yourself well with an energising breakfast such as oat or millet porridge with baked apples, or poached eggs with greens and toasted rye or sourdough bread

* Avoid eating just to ease the boredom – stick to a regular mealtime and fill the gaps with rest, movement, entertainment and plenty of water

* Avoid alcohol, caffeinated tea and coffee, carbonated drinks and fruit juices. Flying is dehydrating enough!

  • Grab & Take:

For a night flight

* For snacks – energy balls, seaweed crackers, humous or a simple sandwich or quinoa salad

* For breakfast – fresh fruits, nuts and seeds, granola and seed crackers

For a day flight

* Take a smoothie to drink before you check in and go through customs –  a great combination is banana, mixed berries, almond milk or kefir, ground flax seeds and cardamon, boosted with maca powder or hemp protein powder

* A snack pack of fresh fruit, nuts/seeds, seaweed crackers & energy balls

* A nourishing lunch of quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and rocket pesto or a more substantial tuna nicoise

Make: Hayley’s Quinoa Salad

The quantities here are approximate – feel free to play and experiment with ingredients.

Any salad made with quinoa, fresh vegetables and a light seasoned dressing will make a fantastic and nutritious travel friendly lunch.

  • Ingredients (makes approx 2 portions)

– 50g dry quinoa per person – pre cooked as per packet (ideally soaked in water overnight)

– 100g carrot, squash or sweet potato

– 1 medium courgette

– 1 medium red pepper

– 1 medium red onion

– 1 small aubergine

– large handful of rocket

– 2 cloves garlic, peeled

– 100g sunflower seeds, walnuts or pine nuts

– 2 tablespoons olive oil

– juice of half lemon

– 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


– Pre-heat oven to 160C/320F

– Roughly chop all vegetables to similar sizes

– Add vegetables to an oven tray and roast for approx 35-40mins

– In the meantime make the pesto in either a pestle or mortar, blender or with a hand held blender by adding rocket, garlic, olive oil, a pinch of salt and the nuts or seeds. Blend until smooth. Check taste to suit.

– Add the roasted vegetables to the quinoa along with some of the pesto, coat and mix very well. Taste and add more pesto if you want to.

Further reading

It makes sense to eat healthily on the way to and from your wellbeing retreat or healthy holiday, but more often than not – whichever country you live in – the food available on aeroplanes, in airports, at train stations, in motorway service stations or on the high street is industrially produced, highly processed and lacking in any source of nutrition. Even the ‘healthy’ options you can buy are often full of refined sugars, salts and hydrogenated fats, not to mention mass produced and lifeless. So what’s the best thing to do? Health chef Hayley North says it’s best to take your own food if you can. Read her healthy eating tips for road trips and for short haul flights in our Journal.

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