Saturday, May 2, 2009

Airplane 37, me 0

In the effort to stay OP, airplanes virtually always defeat me. I can stay focused and on track in a good range of situations and environments, but not this one.

I was in China this past week, which required me to spend about 35 hours on airplanes over the two days of travel there and back. Looking around my flight, I noticed that some people were incredibly disciplined. They slept when they were supposed to sleep, and when they were awake, they read good literature. If they could, they would have probably found a way to do community service or walk a nice old lady across the street.

In this place, I'm not one of them. I watch way too much TV, and I use it as an opportunity to watch some of the worst/questionable movies ever conceived (Twilight? Isn't that for 15 year old girls?). And I eat. In general, on overseas flights, I watch TV and eat. And eat and watch TV. And sometimes I watch TV, then eat, then watch TV. I definitely do not do the exercises that airlines eagerly recommend (then again, I've never seen anyone do those exercises on any flight, ever).

In a restaurant, I would very rarely order the cheese plate after dinner, and I usually skip desert. On an airplane, bring it on! In a restaurant, I would never order something that I knew was slathered in oil and fat. On an airplane, yes please! It is not as though the food on airplanes is haute cuisine (pork belly medley surprise is hardly fine dining). They fed my weakness with terrific flair this past week, and I predictably felt gross and irritated with myself afterwards. I really do not like binge remorse, but I cannot seem to help myself in this gruesome environment.

So what to do? My most obvious solution is to try to avoid eating on flights by eating before I board where the food options are more controllable. This is my normal plan of attack on domestic flights and red-eye flights to Europe. Flights returning from Europe and all flights to and from Asia remain an unsolved mystery to me. They are a dragon yet to be slain.

One small bit of good news is that some airlines are starting to keep one heart healthy selection in each course served, but this still seems to be the exception more than the rule.

On a related note, eating isn't my only bad habit on airplanes. Getting weepy watching crummy movies is another one (for all the guys snickering at this confession, I've seen you do it too). Is it the bad writing that makes me misty? Is it the altitude? Would I do this on top of a mountain? No. Must be something else.


  1. Whenever I fly to and from England and Australia, I always have to eat the food as it is a nigh on 14 hour flight. There is something weird about a salad with 1 cherry tomato, weird omelets with 1 mushroom and a bread roll that is practically the same size as the pat of butter and slice of cheese!
    Also, being overweight, I am hemmed into the seat with the tray table clearing my stomach by a matter of millemetres and I always vow to myself that next time I fly, I will have lost *insert amount* of lbs!

  2. Ugh, 35 hours of flying! That would make anyone "weepy" ;)

    Don't be so hard on yourself; it's tough when you're removed from your normal routine.

  3. I will be travelling for the first time of my Weight Watchers journey in June. I usually can bring some nice healthy snacks with me. (Read here : sneak them through security, as I always have done)

    Then I go buy a giant water bottle after security. That usually does it for me. What I fear the most is the food once I get to England, before I head to Wales where family is. (Family follows Weight Watchers too, I'm sooo lucky =P)

  4. I haven't flown overseas much, but I think you can pre-order a special meal to accommodate your dietary needs. I did this once on a domestic flight and it worked pretty well! This might be something to try next time. Cheers!

  5. I wonder if there's an advantage to asking for the Kosher meal? I hear people order that regardless of their faith. My distant memories are of sealed roast chicken with potato and vegetable for supper. Dont know if that's changed.

  6. I live in California and am from a tiny Island in East Canada. In the best of days it takes 18-20 hours to go home.

    I've started packing food for the trips. I make bento lunches (here's a few examples of what they look like: or put them in little insulated bags.

    Of course you don't have to decorate them that much, the idea is just to pack a compact lunch that is healthy and filling, and still won't take too much space in your bag.

    The airlines never gave me troubles, as long as it's not liquids, and I had to open my lunch only once, to show what it was to a zealous American customs officer.

  7. I usually order the vegan meal -- it's almost always way healthier than whatever my dh gets.