Food for Flying: An interview with Madeleine Shaw

We spoke with Madeleine Shaw, a UK Nutritional Therapist, Author and mother for advice on how to eat right whilst flying with kids (and also if the right foods can get kids to sleep on flights!)

How do you keep food fresh when travelling for a long period of time?

Make sure you have a well sealed lunchbox. It needs a good click on it and something with rubber around the outside so it keep help it to stay fresh.

It is also good to use foods that last a long time. Don’t bother with too many leafy greens because they will start to wilt. You want to think more about grains and root veg. These often even taste better after time as they will marinade with their juices.

Remember to also keep the food as cool as possible. Put the lunchbox in a small cooling bag. Also, think about the smell, as you’ll be around a lot of people, so no boiled egg. Don’t take anything too sulfuric smelling.

But whatever you bring think what it will be like in a few hours time.

What good foods encourage kids to sleep?

The best thing to do is to try and keep in a similar routine like you would at home. When we travel, we often tend to pick the junk food which can be very sugary. This makes children very hyperactive. So try to keep foods low in sugar, avoid sugar and chocolate so that the kids stay nice and calm. It is also important to remember to keep a good balance between carbohydrates and protein.

If you are looking for “easy” good then take or buy some chopped dairy, berries or fruit. Rice cakes and hummus are also good. These are all great “grab and go” foods than needing to prepare anything. They still keep the diet balanced and therefore promote normal sleep routines.

When would you adjust a meal routine for a new time zone?

Feed children when they are hungry. Don’t force them to eat when they are not. Kids are every good at regulating their hunger unlike us adults who just tend to eat at any opportunity. Children have a slightly strong sense of their hunger. Therefore keep to their current routine with added flexibility allowed.

What food do you bring with you?

I try to bring as much as possible with me as airplane food can be very salty and therefore not good for young children.

When we went to Greece, which is a 4 hour flight, I took along a pouch of food. It saved me making a full on meal as I wasn’t really sure if my little one would eat or not. I also took along lots of rice cakes and cucumber sticks with no peel on. Finger food is really good as it reduces the need for cutlery and is great for developing fine motor skills. Veggie sticks are great and keep children entertained. Also hydration is so important, constantly top up the water bottle. Remember kids need to drink more than normal whilst flying.

But my dream would be to do only night flights so I can feed my little one before the flight and then he’ll just sleep all night! Or so I hope!

Follow more useful food advice from Madeleine aimed at kids meals on @madeleineshawsminikitchen and follow Madeleine on @madeleingshaw_