Unless you travel in first or business class, having a "real meal" on a plane is a thing of the past. Even meals on international flights have been scaled back. When there is a meal, you have a choice of special meals, which vary by airline: like gluten-free, low-salt, allergen-free, seafood, vegetarian, diabetic, Kosher, Muslim or Hindu. Call the airline at least twenty-four hours before your flight to request a special meal.
It pays to plan ahead, because even if your schedule has you arriving in time for a meal, you never know when you'll be stranded on the tarmac and stuck in the plane without food:
♦ Bring your own supply of snacks, just in case. Bring along a non-perishable "snack pack"—dried fruit, whole-grain crackers, high fiber snack bars, nuts, and other nonperishable snacks.
♦ Bring a balanced meal. Either from home or from the airport. Good picks: Caesar chicken salad, bean soup, fresh fruit salad and yogurt are available at most airports.
If you are traveling to a foreign country, talk to your health care provider before making reservations. Vaccinations may be required that you can’t take while pregnant. Or, you may need to eat very carefully to avoid viral or bacterial infections spread through food (such as hepatitis.) You may want to take some nonperishable foods with you to snack on if familiar foods aren’t available where you are going, or if food safety is an issue. A jar of peanut or sunflower seed butter tucked in your suitcase may be a good backup food if you find yourself with nothing suitable to eat!
♦ Travel with mobile, manageable carry-on luggage. Lifting heavy carry-on luggage can lead to back pain and pulled muscles. A rolling backpack or briefcase that can fit under your seat is ideal. You can stash your snacks—and it's small enough to roll around the airport without getting a shoulder cramp!
♦ Use the time before and between flights to exercise: walk to your gate instead of using moving sidewalks or a train. If you have plenty of time, take a walking tour of the airport.
♦ Request an aisle seat so you can get up to walk and stretch or go to the restroom.
♦ Bulkhead seats in the first row of each section offer more legroom. If you enjoy putting your seat back, sit in the emergency row, not the row in front of it. The exit row has more leg room, but the seats in the preceding row don’t recline.
♦ Flying can dehydrate you so drink plenty of water before and during the flight. Avoid salty foods, which can make you thirstier and can lead to water retention.
♦ Get up and walk around several times during the flight. Or, you may want to go to the back of the plane and just stand or stretch for a while.
♦ While sitting down, you can do isometric exercises, which can improve circulation and prevent deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot deep in the vein, often in the legs, and it happens about 5-10 times more often in pregnant women than the rest of the population. Make sure to stand up and walk (if possible) every hour you are sitting on the plane (or elsewhere). For more info: www.medicinenet.com/deep_vein_thrombosis/article.htm
♦ When you stop for a meal instead of eating regular-size meals when you stop, order appetizers or eat just half a portion. Add a salad or side order of veggies.
♦ Sitting in the car for extended periods of time may induce “boredom eating,” yet you won’t need as many calories while just sitting. Try to limit snacking to low calorie munchies like carrots, celery, and fresh fruit.
♦ Drink plenty of fluids; lack of activity can slow down your digestion and increase constipation. If you are traveling to a higher altitude, your fluid needs will increase.
♦ Stop once an hour to get out and stretch, which can prevent back pain and increase circulation.
Some of these should be kept cool, so bring along an insulated bag or cooler.
♦ Yogurt smoothies
♦ Baby carrots and other raw veggies
♦ Mandarin oranges
♦ Packaged fruit cups
♦ Sandwich fixings: tuna or salmon in a pouch, low-fat cheese, hummus, avocado, lettuce
♦ String cheese
♦ Try to get a room with a mini-fridge or kitchenette. This will allow you to keep your own snack foods as well as high-fiber cereals for breakfast or snacks.
♦ Try to make wise food choices when eating out. When people eat most meals out, their diets tend to be lower in fiber, calcium, vitamin C, and folacin and higher in fat and sodium. (See page XX for advice on eating out.)
♦ If you are planning to stay with friends or relatives, bring along a few of the foods you usually eat, such as high-fiber cereal, milk, and extra fresh or dried fruit. This way your diet won’t be lacking, and you won’t have to ask your host to buy special foods for you.
♦ Make sure you pack nonperishable snacks in your bag for those hectic tourist schedules. Good snacks include boxes of raisins, wheat crackers, high fiber snack bars, apples, nuts, and individual bags of pretzels. Don’t forget the water!
♦ Put fitness first. Schedule exercise into your plans, or it won't happen! If your hotel has a fitness center, plan on doing some time on the treadmill or bicycle. You can often purchase a day or weekly guest membership at a local gym. If not, plan a daily walk, even if it's at the mall.
♦ Bring a stretch band to fit in some resistance exercise.
♦ Use water bottles as makeshift weights—do some arm exercises while watching TV.
Find out what vaccinations you might need for international travel, when you shouldn't travel during pregnancy and what locations might be extra risky for you and your baby's health at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-8-advising-travelers-with-specific-needs/pregnant-travelers.htm