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Flying on Airlines Without High Calorie Baggage

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  November 28, 2012 12:54 PM

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Source:  FDA
Are you one of the millions of airline passengers who will be traveling this holiday season? Since it is likely that you are flying to be with family and friends where there will be tons of festive foods throughout your stay, you may want to think twice about consuming excess calories during an in-flight meal.    

In a recent survey of 12 major airlines, Dr. Charles Platkin, PhD, aka The Diet Detective, uncovered that, on average, airline food contains about 380 calories per serving, ranging from 50 calories for a petite bag of pretzels on Southwest and a 186 calorie fruit tray on Air Canada to a hefty 840 calorie Chicken Caesar Wrap on Delta airlines.  Platkin’s annual airline food investigation uncovered that some airlines are more health conscious than others. “This year Virgin America wins the top spot with the "healthiest" food choices in the sky, with Air Canada a close second and Alaska Air not too far behind,” claims Platkin.

Here are some of his recommendations for lower calorie meal options when flying:

Air Canada:  Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomato Dressing and Chicken Strips  (330 calories)

Alaska Airlines:  Chicken Cacciatore Skillet (292 calories)

American Airlines:  Marcus Samuelsson’s New American Table Turkey and Chutney Sandwich (453 calories)

United Airlines:  Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad (360 calories)

Virgin Airlines: Roasted Pear and Arugula Salad (360 calories)

(For a complete list of the survey findings, visit the

Unfortunately, you always take the chance that they will run out of these items by the time they get to your row.  Since most airlines will make you pay for your in-flight food anyway, you may want to rethink where you spend your money and calories when you fly.   To exercise more control over your airport food options and calories, consider arriving three hours, rather than the suggested two hours, prior to your scheduled takeoff and enjoy a meal of your choice at one of the airport eateries.    

At Logan Airport, there are eateries at each of the terminals where you can obtain healthier fare including gourmet sandwiches (split the sandwich with a friend if they are huge), salads (watch the dressing and cheese), soups (order veggie based and bypass the creamy chowder), and even a sit-down steamed lobster dinner (go easy with the drawn butter).  Here are a few:

Fresh City:  Salads, soups, burritos, wraps, and stir-fries.  (Terminal A) 

Lean & Green Gourmet:  Fresh fruit cups, salads, and gourmet sandwiches (Terminal C)

Legal Seafood C Bar, Restaurant, or Test Kitchen:  Salads, seafood entrees, and steamed lobster.  (Terminals A, B, or C)

Wolfgang Puck Express:  Soups, salads, and gourmet sandwiches (Terminal C) 

Click here for additional eateries at Logan Airport. 

For the return flight, check the website of the departing airport for a list of available eateries in order to plan your meal option in advance.  Plan ahead to avoid needless high calorie baggage when you travel.

What are your healthy eating tips when you travel?  Please share below.

                                              Follow Joan on Twitter at:  joansalgeblake

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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