Food I Pack When I Fly & My New Year's Resolution

Monday, January 18, 2016

When I first started this job, I made a point of eating delicious local meals wherever I had a layover. Now,  experienced and jaded Flight Attendant that I am, if I have a layover somewhere new I absolutely make a point of trying out the local restaurant scene, but if I have a trip with three consecutive layovers in the same city (BORING), somewhere I don't have local friends, or a really short overnight (12 hours to get off the plane, get to the hotel, sleep, and back on the plane) I don't want to scramble to find food and I'd rather spend my time sleeping anyway. The trip that really convinced me I had to plan my food consumption better was a few months ago, when I found myself hiking across a dark highway to get to a Walgreens so that I could have something for dinner and lunch the next day. There are few things sadder than buying dinner alone in a drug store at 9:30pm.

My other challenge was that I often found myself with the ability to purchase delicious local specialties or I'd have leftovers that I'd want to eat for lunch but no way to transport them or keep them fresh. There's only so much you can do with ziplock baggies in your purse, trust me.

So how did I solve this little challenge?
I broke down and turned to my favorite travel store ever: ebags.com



I purchased their Crew Cooler II and it has CHANGED. THE. GAME. 
I can pack breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in this bad boy and go for DAYS. It's also just a pretty good little carryon bag. Now, a word of warning. For most of you travelers out there, the Crew Cooler Jr. is going to be plenty big enough for your food needs while traveling. You're also going to want to keep in mind that as a uniformed crew member I have different parameters for bringing liquids through security, but you CAN bring foods through security if they're solid. Read, frozen. So pull a Queen Elsa and freeze that soup you're hoping to have for dinner later and you'll be golden. (Probably. Don't get stuck at a TSA checkpoint being like "But Caroline SAID I could bring frozen soup.")

In fact, the TSA has published a whole list of foods that you can and can't bring in your carryon. I love that Maple Syrup is specifically identified. You just KNOW that's because enough people leaving Vermont have been like "But it's a NECESSITY. I NEED THIS." 

Good news though, pies and cakes are cleared to fly. Thank. Goodness. 

For all you non crew flyers out there, the New York Times recently published an article about bringing your own food on the plane, so check that out. 

Food I Pack When I Fly

Leftovers from the night before
Roasted Vegetables
Crackers (Melba Toast or Saltines)
Avocados

From Trader Joe's: 
Frozen Chicken Tikka Masala
Frozen Channa Masala
Frozen Reduced Guilt Mac & Cheese
Frozen Microwaveable Rice
Chicken in Red Curry Sauce
Precooked Lentils (these are in the produce section at your local TJ's and they are a GIFT)
Salad mix plus cucumbers, celery, and grilled chicken
Frozen Steelcut Oatmeal
Frozen or freeze dried raspberries

Not From TJ's:
Oatmeal Caramel bars from Hudak's in the summer
Vermont Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Non-perishable items I keep in my cooler:
Frank's Hot Sauce
Lara Bars
Tea bags: Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Peppermint, and Ginger
Mints and gum


I try to consume a generally beneficial mixture of whole grains, vegetables, and protein. If "eating clean" is your thing, you do you, but honestly I'm a little suspicious that it can stray too close to disordered eating. I'm with Nigella on this

Which brings me to my New Year's Resolution. Generally, I don't believe in committing to something just because it's January, but this year I'm trying to make a new start when it comes to one thing.

I've decided to stop seeing weight loss as success, for me or for anyone else.
Possibly a remnant of my pageant days, probably just part of existing as a woman in Western culture, in my head "losing weight" is something to be proud of. Like, when you see someone who you haven't seen in a while, and they've lost weight so you say "You look so great!". 
Being thin does not make you healthy. Being thin will not give you peace with your body or your appearance. Being thin is not, in and of itself, an accomplishment.

Personally, I struggle with wanting to be thinner (just like practically everyone else), and I kind of WISH I could go all in on an extreme diet and crazy workouts to drop thirty pounds, but I just can't. I can't because it feels wrong and nags at my conscience. There is NOTHING wrong with my body as it is (except for my one knee that keeps crackling and I do have scoliosis, but that's unrelated) whether it's at a size four or a size twelve. Frankly, I'm kicking around a size 8 right now and that should be ok.
Part of me wants to lose weight to fit into size four dresses that I just LOVE from when I was Miss VT. The other part of me wants to stay the same size I am now to show people (especially young girls) that it is completely acceptable to wear a size 8 dress. I know that when I see pictures of Amy Schumer, or America Ferrera, or another "average" sized celebrity it makes me feel less like there's something wrong with my body for looking the way that it does, and I want to be able to provide that for someone else out there in the universe.

There are a whole variety of weights and sizes out there in the world, and I need to constantly remind myself that it is acceptable for anyone to be any of them.  
(Unless your doctor tells you to lose weight for your health, then you need to do that.)

I want to be healthy. But does healthy have to mean having a thigh gap, the ability to do a handstand, and running marathons?
For me healthy means being able to easily stow my roll aboard in the overhead bin, being able to do a 90 second plank, and being able to run/jog/walk a 5k at a moment's notice.

So in the midst of this internal conflict, I think the best I can do for right now is to drink a LOT of water, enjoy my kale and my french fries, and to stop thinking losing weight is the pinnacle of success. 

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