Friday, March 20, 2009

Follow up to article, comment on protein

Hello everyone,

I wanted to share a question forwarded by Pat Lombardi at the University of Oregon, who wondered why I'd stated that we "need lots of protein".

Knowing that our demographic tends to be busy, often tired, and reading these posts on layovers and in busy airports, I like to keep them short. Which is challenging, given a complicated scientific issue such as protein needs. But I am going to try.

My statement was based on what I learned in doing market research with pilots and flight attendants before launching Air Vitals, and learning about what habits they had and what habits they were willing to change.

Quite simply, it gets really boring to eat tuna and turkey and it's a whole lot easier to carry on, and snack on, the high-carbohydrate foods available in newstands at the terminals. Or, to eat a fast food meal that comes with a huge order of french fries, or a large frozen yogurt. Those are not the foods that are going to help your energy, or weight. Many flight attendants and pilots carry their own foods on trips so they don't have to eat airport food. They're sick and tired of it.

I said what I did about protein to challenge readers to start doing two things. First of all, to become familiar with protein sources available in the airport, such as cheese in a fruit dish, or sushi like I saw recently in LAX. Secondly, to think of portable protein foods such as peanut butter packets, string cheese, or jerky as recommended by Ivonne Berkowitz-Ward in the article (I'm partial to salmon jerky myself).

I was not intending to encourage anyone to overload on protein. I assume that most readers are intelligent and will make choices that do not overload them. I was trying to highlight an issue our market research said was important to address with this demographic without it becoming lengthy and impractical for the reader.

I really appreciate Pat's comments and hope everyone understands where I was going. I can do the heavily referenced scientific writing thing but it's not pretty to read and not what I believed this audience was looking for.

Comments are welcome and I'm really grateful Pat provided an opportunity to clarify! It's awesome when colleagues keep us on our toes! :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Healthy Eating Featured in

I was super excited that this article finally went live...then the first few sentences into it, I realized my great friend and colleague Ivonne Berkowitz-Ward had ALSO been interviewed!

Paul clearly has good taste in interview subjects!

Seriously, it's an honor to be on the Internet with such a great professional and I'm happy the article is so full of great ideas for eating well while traveling.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Going Full Throttle??

It's Time to Decelerate!

I, too, want to express my gratitude to the pilots and flight crews who deliver us safely to our destinations. We place our lives in your hands on a regular basis and that is a big responsibility! And with responsibility often comes STRESS!!!

When the body encounters acute stress, such as that Captain Sullenberger experienced, stress hormones are released which stimulate carbohydrate and fat metabolism to provide the quick energy needed for a "fight or flight" response. This raises blood pressure, quickens respiration and tenses muscles, allowing us to react quickly and efficiently in the situation.

But, what happens when we are under constant stress? Well, our bodies respond with the release of hormones, including cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can stimulate appetite, especially for high calorie foods. This results in increased fat storage, especially in the abdominal region (called visceral fat). It can also decrease metabolism, meaning your body does not burn as many calories - more fat storage results. Insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, poor sleep quality and impaired immunity are also more likely to occur.

Each of these causes its own set of problems with their own possible dietary interventions, which we can go into at another time. For now, don't spend those sleepless nights ordering cortisol-blocking supplements from some infomercial on TV - they don't work! The key is to incorporate stress management techniques into your lifestyle.

When possible, spend 20-30 minutes each day in some kind of relaxing activity (a hot bath, meditation, yoga, music, reading, etc). If you can't get in 20 minutes, at least take a few moments to close your eyes and do some deep breathing (of course, you will want to be parked safely at the gate before you do this!). Exercise helps rid the body of cortisol, enhances sleep, and releases endorphins. Try to incorporate movement daily and weight lifting twice/week to minimize abdominal fat gain.

While travelling (especially when that is your JOB!) can make self-care, like mindfulness, sleep and relaxation challenging - it is imperative to your good health. But, don't stress over the stress-reduction!! Take a deep breath and give thanks that you're not landing in the Hudson River right now!