Plan B eating

It”™s dinnertime, and I”™m flying home to San Francisco from a Houston business trip. The flight attendant is bringing around the service cart and I”™m about to order … milk. I never drink milk, so why now?

Let”™s go back to how the day started. Fortunately, I had ordered eggs and oatmeal from room service. (This was a number of years ago, before we all became gluten-phobic.) Breakfast showed up at 7:00; so far so good.

I was in Houston in January for a meeting called by Sherry. The meeting started at 10:00 a.m. and was scheduled to last till 1:00. My return flight was at 2:30 p.m.

Sherry had promised us food. I should have been suspicious, because Sherry and I once had dinner at an airport, and hers was a plate of white-flour pasta and a plate of white rice. The only foods at the meeting were donuts, Danish pastries, M&Ms, Halloween-size candy bars, soft drinks and coffee. No refreshments for me, thank you.

At 1:00, a few of us got into Sherry”™s car so she could drive us to the airport. Six hours without food had left me hungry, and I planned to get food at the airport. Unfortunately, unexpected traffic due to an event in town slowed us to a crawl. It was not going to be possible to get food before my flight. Maybe a pack of raw almonds? Almost every airport newsstand sells those.

Well, time was so short I had to run to the gate. When I finally stepped on the plane, they closed the door literally the instant I was on board. And then.

The flight couldn”™t take off for an hour due to some problem or other. (Believe me, I had stopped caring.) Even when we were cleared to go, we couldn”™t take off because the plane now had to be de-iced. We sat on the tarmac for 2 more hours.

So our 2:30 flight departed at 5:30. There was no meal service — it was an afternoon flight. A 2½-hour flight. After a 7:00 a.m. breakfast and nothing else, all I could think about was food.

Finally, the beverage cart appeared. I had already decided what to order. You might think I”™d grab whatever I could get, but as I watched people consume Pepsi, ginger ale and apple juice, I knew that spelled nothing but trouble for a carb-sensitive like me.

The answer lay in finding food.

Food on a beverage cart. Are you thinking peanuts? So was I. But they had pretzels. White flour would have been worse than nothing. So my plan — at this point, was it Plan B or Plan C? Maybe D; it was a long day — was milk. Milk isn”™t a beverage; it”™s food. Usually, I don”™t drink it, but this wasn”™t usual.

Got milk? They had it — 2%, the only kind they serve on airlines. I had done the calculations (plenty of time to do arithmetic on the tarmac), and 2% was actually the perfect answer. It came as close to a 40-30-30 meal as I could get on the fly, although it was light on protein and a bit heavy on fat. Even though I don”™t go around pushing 40-30-30 meals (remember The Zone?) on my clients, I do know that the effect of those percentages is stabilizing.

The key word is Stabilizing, and that”™s the take-away here. In this case, stability refers to both blood sugar (glucose) and brain chem. In a semi-emergency like this, it”™s tempting to use the situation as an excuse to grab anything edible, even things we should avoid.

But milk was a wiser choice, and in 20 minutes I felt a lot better.

Lately, I”™ve been finding it necessary to go with Plan B often — so the best idea is always to have one. When it comes to food, a solid Plan B is absolutely vital. Carry envelopes of protein powder or packs of raw nuts with you, rather than fruit. Think stability. After all, we”™re talking about your brain first, as well as the rest of you.

Joan Kent

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