Food Baggage: Adventures of a Handicapped-Foodie


Food Crisis No #313: Airline Woes

Bing! The seat belt sign goes off and lunch will be served shortly.

The announcement wakes me up from zombie mode and I sit straighter in my seat, peering over heads to spy the location of the next magic silver trolley pushed by glamazon flight attendants.

Delicious whiffs of airline food start to invade the cabin and my stomach rumbles, impatiently anticipating the scrumptious in-flight lunch pack.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m one of those weirdos who finds excitement in airline food and never had a problem devouring the contents in those little plastic tubs. The thick gravy on whatever suspect meat is served up, the stone cold bread rolls with the New Zealand butters…okay, so I may not be a food connoisseur but I’m Asian and the price of the ticket already incorporates the meal, so enjoy it I WILL!

My excitement on this occassion was short lived though…

Meals on wheels being served to lucky passengers
Picture: Malaysia Airlines economy class service
(Image courtesy of Gila-Makan)

As the lovely Flightie handed me my delightfully warm tray, I realized that the chances of it containing food I was allowed to eat was minimal to none.

Damn it. I was hungry and I’m stuck on this flight for the next two hours.

“Would you also like a glass of complimentary wine?”, the ever chirpy air hostess questioned. No, no I would not, I wanted to reply, but if you have a blunt knife or even a spoon, I’d like to stab myself in the neck thanks!

Clean eating plan 1. Hungry stomach 0.

I figure maybe I shouldn’t rant on about how much I have to give up and actually start questioning why I have to exercise restraint with outside food. Are people actually aware of how much sugar, fats and empty carb fillers they are consuming by purchasing “natural” or “99% fat free” products?

The pack I was handed looked good to the nutritional oblivious- an innocent pack of cookies, “healthy” Mediterranean vegetable wrap and 100% natural orange juice. Now, if you love food and don’t care what you are eating, I advise you to never turn over to the ingredient and nutrition panel to check it out.

The bite-sized mini cookies had a whopping 22g of fat and 18g of sugar at 307 calories (don’t even get me started on the refine carb content!). Fine, so the cookies go to my lucky next door neighbor in 3A and I move onto the vegetable wrap. The fine print paints and even bleaker picture: white refined wrap contains mayo, cheese and a whole lot of preservatives and regulators that I don’t understand. Am I eating food or a piece of plastic?! I don’t even bother checking the orange juice because that’s guaranteed to keep me on a sugar high for the next 10 days, natural or not.

Designer food in the airline lounge and they’re all off limits, frustrating much?
Picture: Virgin Australia Business Lounge

Not even my gold class status could save me from my hunger strike!

After landing I walked across the entire terminal, only to be told by the business lounge staff that they didn’t have a normal mircrowave to heat up my lunch box.

Ego a little bruised, I wondered from food outlet to food outlet with generic grey plastic bags in hand, begging the waitstaff if I could use their microwaves. Eventually, one kind waitress graciously assisted.

Heated meal accomplished, I then plodded to the communal food court to fight for a dirty table. No free wifi. No free coffee. No comfy foo-foo snotty couches. Pffft…who needs that stuff anyway? I certainly don’t, as the guy cutting his toe nails on the table beside me agrees. Okay fine, I’m exaggerating, but it was horrible at the time.

So, what did I learn on this glorious day playing with paper planes at the airport?

If you are a health conscious traveller, invest in reliable Tupperware in different shapes and sizes so you can prepare your meals in advance to avoid starvation.

Also, my secret weapon to avoid the “sorry, we don’t do variations” or “we don’t allow outside food” road-blocks are summarized in three simple phrases:

~ “I’m hypo-allergic to everything
~ “I’ll buy a coffee if you heat up my food”
and, my personal favorite,
~ “Don’t add any oils, sugar, dairy, MSG or basting or I’LL DIE

My next stint with airline food will be this Friday when I embark an 8 hour international flight to Malaysia (yay, holiday!), so wish me luck. I’m planning to pack a light lunch and afternoon tea, lots of nuts and plenty of water but once I land, it’s going to be hawker food all the way baby!

Until then, I’ve done some snooping and found articles with helpful advice from fellow bloggers on how to get around dodgy airline meals.
Read up, get informed and happy flying.

Bloggers’ wisdom collection:
– [Michelle Espino: Holidays are no excuse to let go]
[Healthy Lifestyle: Food tips when travelling by plane]
[Gila Makan: Test driving Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia inflight meals]


3 thoughts on “Food Baggage: Adventures of a Handicapped-Foodie

  1. Healthy Glow Nutrition

    Thank you 🙂 I truly appreciate it 🙂 I would strongly forego any meal on the plane. Even the “healthiest” seeming ones will leave you feeling bloated and gross as they are loaded with sodium. Not a nice look and it hides your hard earned muscles 🙂 Keep to your lunch box and arrive feeling fantastic. I hope you have a wonderful and safe trip.



  2. It was my pleasure to share your post so that others can prepare themselves to controlling their diet while travelling 🙂 It was a major bummer refusing the lunch tray on my Sydney trip, but I’ve requested a special “Low Lactose” meal for my international trip this Friday so let’s see how they go. Otherwise, I’ll have a back up lunch box ready to spring into action should the airline catering fail!

  3. Healthy Glow Nutrition

    Thank you so much for including me on your list. I have had so much trouble eating well when travelling and decided to do a post about it. As I am doing the low carb, no sugar, no grain thing when I travel in January I will pack my own chicken breast, asparagus and a whole avocado as well as some nuts and LOTS of water. The so called “food” they serve is just horrendous. BTW, I used to be excited when the food cart rolled around, but after what I learned I fight the urge to get anything but water from them 🙂

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