Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge for aviation professionals. As a race we are getting bigger; we are more than ever exposed to processed foods high in fat and sugar; we live sedentary lifestyles; and we are increasing the likelihood of loosing our medical or getting sick.

There is no one size fits all solution to healthy eating. This is one reason why fad diets don’t work! If you apply a dietary regime or routine to your life that is too strict, or does not allow for the nuances of your particular lifestyle, you will fail. Your individual daily energy requirements will vary depending on a range of factors, including your age, gender, activity level and body size. The key to sustainable health and weight management is working out what works for you.

Eat all five food groups every day

Some simple strategies to make sure you are eating enough of certain food groups, even when you’re travelling, is to add more serves of particular foods, such as vegetables or legumes, throughout the day. For example, you could:

  • Make breads or grains part of at least two meals most days.
  • Include vegetables at least twice a day, particularly important if you would like to lose weight.
  • Make vegetables at least one third of meals and half the meal if you are trying to lose weight.
  • Serve vegetables or salad as a side dish even when eating meals like pasta, lasagne or risotto. Include lean meat or meat alternative a part of at least one meal a day.
  • Add fruit to at least two meals or used as snacks or desserts.
  • Include a serve of low fat milk, yoghurt or cheese as a significant part of at least two meals or snacks.

Try something new, one food at a time

It’s easy to get into a habit where you only eat the foods you already know. So if those foods aren’t available, you may find you struggle with knowing what to eat and make poor choices. Or, if you try to change your whole diet at once, you might feel overwhelmed and slip back into old habits.

Try these strategies to help you begin to make positive change:

  • Choose fruit and vegetables that are in season, even if they’re unfamiliar – they will be cheaper and fresher and likely taste better
  • Change one part of your meal at a time. For example, try a different kind of pasta, or use couscous or quinoa instead of rice
  • Mix wholegrain with refined grains, gradually increasing the amount of wholegrain
  • Try a wrap instead of a sandwich
  • Cook tomatoes, mushrooms or spinach to go with a hot breakfast
  • Add finely chopped or grated coloured vegetables to main dishes.

Choose an eating plan that works for you

Meal planning makes it easier to change your behaviour, but for a meal plan to work, it needs to fit with your lifestyle. Some different approaches are:

The detailed meal plan: Involves writing a plan for each meal of the day and is handy if you’re just starting out.

The rotating two-week meal plan: Stock up on staples and buy fresh food weekly or fortnightly, and change the plan every couple of months for variety.

The fast meal plan: Think about your habits and plan accordingly. For example, you might rotate two main breakfast dishes, such as poached eggs on toast or muesli and yogurt.

The super-fast meal plan: Focus on two to three meals. Cook more than you need and freeze leftovers, or plan some convenience meals, such as entree salads you can throw together or canned soups.

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