Snacks when travelling on business

20141030_111931Snacks are the bridge when the gap between meals is too far.  Easily managed when our schedule is stable, but travelling can jilt the system – the answer is to bring our own!  In some terminals, restaurants and cafes may offer snack bars at the counter for a quick grab before boarding. 

 THE BEST SNACKS – have nutrients, fibre, and energy.  Our next meal may be in sight, but we don’t want to fade before we get there.

Fruits, veggies and smoothies – Those containing colourful pigments are good sources of phytochemicals, vitamins A, C and folate, lutein and fibre. Even the humble apple contains 4.4g fibre plus useful amounts of potassium to help keep our blood pressure low.  Better to eat whole fresh fruit for greater satiety value rather than juiced or pulped fruit.Green vegetable smoothie

Smoothies can be delicious but may be higher in energy and lower in fibre than a whole fruit or vegetable, and the sensation of fullness generally dissipates quicker.  Some smoothies can contain as much as 397 calories per serving, where as others are only 133 calories.  So choose wisely if intending to have a snack and not an extra meal.

Low fat dairy drinks, coffee, skinny hot chocolate, drinking yoghurts – These are high in satiety promoting protein plus calcium and iodine. Recent research found that Iodine status can be low in many people.  A morning cappuccino or evening hot chocolate can be a nourishing treat.

dried fruit iStock_000008037442_Small (2)Raw nuts, or dried fruits with nuts – Lots of protein, and fibre, plus essential fatty acids in the nuts. Research from Barcelona University found that a daily portion of raw tree nuts (e.g. walnuts and almonds), as part of the Mediterranean diet, reduces the risk of a heart attack by 30%  Remember to check with the transport operator or fellow traveller for any allergy to nuts prior to opening when on board.

THE BEST SNACKS ARE PRE-PLANNED  Many airlines, especially the low budget ones, don’t come around with a fruit basket, when travelling we need to think ahead, BYO!


Worst because they are high in calories and low in nutrients – there is often too much saturated fat, salt and/or sugar.

Crisps – and crisp type snacks, high in fat and salt. Best of the worst, pretzel/Twiglet types, low in calories but still too much salt.Mixed Salted Nuts

Salted roasted nuts, all the good oils turned bad by heat, very high in calories and salt. Best of the worst, pistachios, slow to eat, lots of protein but still salty.  Airlines may offer you a packet of salted nuts, so try to opt for other options if possible.

Biscuits – it’s very easy to eat too many. 

Cakes and pastries – these are treat foods, very nice occasionally, but too many calories for regular snacking


  •  Watching TV or inflight movies, the main focus isn’t the food, often treats can be huge portions if stocking up prior to boarding.
  • On the graze, with multiple nibbles we don’t see how much we’ve eaten.  Snacks may be frequently offered when on long haul.  Frequent snackers are more likely to gain weight especially if travelling regularly. 

Guilty Pleasures Edamame beansiStock_000045191116_Small (2)

  • Popcorn – pure unadulterated is low in calories, high in fibre – rather light on nutrients. Salted, buttered, toffee puts it back in the Worst list.
  • Chocolate – a few squares of 70% cocoa solid dark chocolate contains enough flavanols to help prevent atherosclerosis.  Regular milk chocolate treat bars are high in sugar and saturated fat, a Worst snack!
  • Edamame Beans high in fibre and protein, but particularly tasty but watch out for the salt. 

Snacks to Calm the Senses

Take away sushi iStock_000005946291_Small (2)Travelling can be stressful. We are often in crowds or at the mercy of train and plane itineraries. Eating and drinking is a calming familiar activity we can perform, in an alien environment. This makes most drinks and snacks appealing, but also makes us vulnerable to compensating with treats. When our natural order is upset, our regular routine can leave with it.

Forward planning, and when necessary, bringing our own snacks, is the key. Drinking a nice cup of tea, or eating an airport/train terminal purchased snack, such as sushi, a pot of fruit salad or dry mango slices; helps us to regain control and calm our anxiety.

© Extravitality 2014

Author: Carol Sadler PhD
Carol is a Nutrition Consultant. She counsels in diet and lifestyle change at Surrey Cardiovascular Clinic where clients have been referred by the clinic cardiologists. Prior to this Carol worked in private practice in Dubai for nine years, where she had various media engagements including Emirates Radio 2 Lifestyle Show monthly ‘phone-in’ on nutrition topics; Gulf News Friday Magazine (weekend supplement) monthly nutrition letter answered; City7 TV appearances on Breakfast Television and Lifestyle Show commenting on nutrition topics. Contributions to local magazines, and organizations, eg Rheumatoid Arthritis Group, Grazia Magazine, Living in the Gulf magazine. She continues to write nutrition articles and blogs, recently writing for Reader’s Digest, and HASTE Academy heart health charity and provides talks on diet issues. Carol is a member of The Nutrition Society, a Registered Nutritionist at the Association for Nutrition, Registration No. 912 and a member of SENSE (self employed consultant Nutritionists group for professional development).

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