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How an Airline Pilot Learned to Eat Healthy Even with Frequent Travel For Work [Case Study]

How an Airline Pilot Learned to Eat Healthy Even with Frequent Travel For Work [Case Study]

Imagine your boss telling you that you have to work the next 3-5 days 500 miles away from home or you'd lose your job. Unless you win the lottery, I'm guessing you will have to take that trip. What foods would you pack? How would you eat healthy during your trip?

Well, if you are an airline pilot, like my subscriber, Maurice, then you don't have to use your imagination. Pilots have it rough!

Eating healthy while traveling was a major issue for, Maurice. He was trying to eat healthier. But being away from home for days at time had him on the struggle bus. But with a few tips and tricks, Maurice was able to get off that bus and on to the gains train.

The Subject:

​Maurice is commercial airline pilot. He has been trying to lose weight and build muscle for years. He's tried extreme dieting but the results never stuck because his diet was too extreme. 

After reading the Shift and Shred ebook, Maurice realized that he had to change his eating and exercise habits gradually. He knew that he couldn't rely on will power to keep eating wack meals like chicken breast and broccoli.

So early last year he made a commitment to gradually adopt new healthy habits over time. Eventually he found himself exercising regularly​ and getting stronger.

Buuuut, there was one issue...nutrition.​ See, when Maurice works, he is gone from home about 4 days.

sign of motel

He has to sleep in hotels all over the country. Some hotels are in isolation and have no food options nearby. Oftentimes, he arrives at his hotel after midnight and everything is closed​.

In these cases Maurice is left with typical fast food options: burgers, cripsy chicken sandwiches and pizza.

​Of course, these foods left Maurice feeling sluggish and wanting more than, "2 buns with whatever", as he put it.

Fail #1​

​So Maurice tried bringing snack foods to work. He brought trail mix, granola bars, etc. The problem was these small snacks weren't meal replacements. They were...well, snacks. They left him hungrier than a hostage.

Fail #2

Next, he tried cooking meals on one of his days off. He packed his food in his lunch bag along with ice packs. He was all set for his 3 day trip for work....so he thought.

His food lasted a little over 24 hours before growing fuzz and smelling like morning breathe. He was back eating crap again.

Not having any more ideas, Maurice reached out on Facebook about his problem so I decided to help a brotha out.

​Goal Setting

target goal

The first thing we did was define his goal. Maurice's goal was not to lose bodyfat or gain muscle mass. He only wanted to eat healthier and have more food options.

Piloting is a lifetime profession. Maurice refused to spend the rest of his life eating burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and pizza. He wanted more options...healthier options.

Challenges:

There were a few challenges to meeting his goals.

frog traveling with luggage
  1. Bag and Luggage: Pilots have to pack light. They are allowed just 1 carry-on and 1 lunch bag. His carry-on was already too full and looking pregnant.​ Maurice only had room to pack food in his lunch bag. 
  2. Hotels: A lot of the time, hotel rooms don't have microwaves, ovens, or stoves to reheat food. And they usually don't have a refrigerator or freezer to keep food cold and fresh.

​How I Helped

Considering the fact that Maurice had limited space in his food bag, I suggested he load up on dry snack foods. These foods could be stored at room temperature and stuffed into any of his bag's pockets. Snack ideas included:

  • ​protein bars
  • granola bars
  • trail mix
  • turkey/beef jerky
  • tuna packs (combine with mayo/mustard packets + toast = tuna salad sandwich)

One of Maurice's biggest issues was keeping his food cold. He was relying solely on his ice packs and ice cubes to keep his food cold. I suggested he freeze his food completely solid. The combination of frozen food and ice/ice packs would keep his food at a safe temperature for days!

Freezing his food also affords Maurice more room in his food bag. Colder food means he needs less ice. Less ice in the bag means more food in his bag...that's what we call a two-fer (2 for 1).

I also suggested Maurice use cubed ice instead of crushed ice. Crushed ice holds more air than cubed. When it comes to food storage, air is the enemy. The more air in his bag, means the higher the temperature.

The suggestion that Maurice loved the most was to vacuum seal. Vacuum sealing his food would do 2 things: preserve freshness and prevent freezer burn.

So at this point, keeping his food fresh and fuzz free wasn't a problem. The problem was how will Maurice reheat his food when a microwave or stove is not available in his hotel room.

​My solution to his reheat dilemma was to use a cooking method called sous vide. Sous vide (aka water oven) is a culinary technique that cooks vacuumed sealed food in a water bath.

sous vide water food bath

​To reheat his food, all Maurice would need is a portable sous vide device (like this one) and a plastic container (like this). Since the plastic container has thin walls he could stuff it with clothing and store it in his carry on.

Results

​Since receiving my advice, Maurice has been much happier with his food selection while traveling.

​​While researching vacuum sealing and freezing food, Maurice discovered Tastefully Plated Paleo Meals.

​He really likes Tastefully Plated Paleo Meals. They are calorie and macro friendly, nutritious, and easy to prepare. However, he did express concern that he may get tired of these meals. So I suggested Maurice check out my meal prep article for help with planning and prepping meals at home.

​Updates

Living the fit life is a never ending journey. So as Maurice meets new triumphs and challenges, I'll be sure to post updates to this page. So subscribe to be notified when I post updates.

Do you need help like Maurice did? If so, then you are invited to apply for a Free Shredded Strategy Call with me.​

​Here’s what you will get in this Free Shredded Strategy Session:

  1. Via phone or skype you will get a free analysis of your current exercise routine. We’ll start with where you are at and how you plan to progress
  2. Create a crystal clear vision for the life you will live in your new lean and shredded body with more energy
  3. Uncover hidden lifestyle challenges that may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts and destroying your energy
  4. Leave our session motivated, inspired, and ready to lose the weight you want and gain the energy you need
  5. If you would like to apply for a Shredded Strategy Call, fill out the application by clicking the button below. If I think I can help you, I will contact you within 1 week.​

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About the Author

Dr. Halid helps busy people lose 10+ lbs and adopt a healthy lifestyle. He was able to transform his body by losing 30lbs of fat while working 50+ hour weeks as an Orthopedic Physical Therapist---and he's kept it off for years. Feel free to stalk him on Facebook or Instagram. Read more about my story here.

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