Why Most Airline Food Is Rubbish

It’s vacation time and you’ve forked out a small fortune to fly to your favorite Caribbean destination for some much-deserved chill time. You’re excited about taking some serious time to enjoy yourself but also rebuild your health, after busting your ass at work; stressing left, right and center; buying crappy take-out food for lunch and dinner; and sleeping far less than your body needs.

Well, if you’re determined to get your health back on track, this flight you’re going on might not be the best way to kick things off. That’s because, generally speaking, the in-flight food that most airlines serve is absolute rubbish, designed for ease of delivery and storage life rather than nourishment or even taste. So if you value your health, you might want to consider passing on those “complimentary” meals and bringing some healthy snacks.

Here are a few reasons why airline food is less than meets the eye (and, to be honest, it’s not much to look at in the first place!):

  1. It’s loaded with bad calories

The food airlines serve is well known to be calorie dense in order to give customers the impression of satiety and stop them from complaining. The problem is, these calories aren’t the good kind and are generally attributed to trans fats, refined sugars and super starchy snacks and bread-based foods. That’s a surefire way to pack on the pounds.

  1. It’s high in sodium

Most in-flight meals are accompanied with small sachets of salt; however, you hardly ever actually end up using that salt. Why is that?

Well, it could have something to do with the fact that airlines intentionally load their in-flight foods up with high concentrations of sodium in order to add flavor to other bland-tasting meals. It’s an easy, cheap way to keep their customers happy. The downside is that it’s ultra-refined table salt that they’ve added — the kind that has been stripped of its natural minerals and thoroughly doused in anti-caking agents. Your body has no use for this kind of sodium and too much of it can do some serious damage to your health.

  1. High-quality food is not the name of the game

If you take your food seriously and only eat food that is sustainably sourced, organic and GMO-free, you might want to seriously reconsider eating the food they give you on planes. That’s because these concepts are virtually unheard of in airline catering, and if you ever receive a meal that has been made with local ingredients or organic vegetables, it’s probably only by accident!

  1. It’s usually just a choice between salty and sweet

For some reason, US airlines have it in their heads that a snack is not a snack unless it’s either loaded with sugar or thoroughly coated in salt. The Delta flight I recently took from Portland to San Francisco gave me the snack options of either peanuts, pretzels or cookies. I had a connecting flight on to Toronto with Delta, so I was able to try out all three over the course of the flights: The peanuts were so salty and oily (hydrogenated vegetable oils, of course!) as to render them almost inedible without a drink to hand, the pretzels were also salty and of course gluten-loaded, and the cookies were packed with refined sugars. This is standard fare on planes, and it’s hardly supporting optimum health or even keeping you satisfied for that matter.

  1. It could be unsafe to eat

While most airlines have a strict food-handling policy of cook, chill and reheat, in practice this can be difficult for airline staff to implement. If there’s a problem with the ovens, the foil comes off a food tray or the food begins to get reheated then turbulence occurs and the ovens need to get switched off again, your food has likely gone through multiple reheating phases.

This opens the door to harmful pathogens and food contamination, made all too easy due to the plane’s air-recirculation system, which is blowing around all the nasty bacteria and detritus that gets sucked up into the vents. Where did you think that sick guy’s sneeze particles went? Or the lady down the aisle who keeps hacking up her lungs? Bon appétit!

Convinced that eating the food they serve you on planes might not be the best decision for your health? Here are 12 high-protein snacks that are easy to make and can be brought along for the flight, saving you a stomach-rumbling dilemma.

—Liivi Hess

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