I was interviewed by my colleague, dietitian Mariette Abrahams, regarding the future of travel nutrition. She was off to the World Travel Catering Expo to talk about personalised nutrition (unfortunately I was unable to make it this year). We chatted about the future of travel nutrition as she know it is a passion of mine and that I enjoy travel! See below for our chat
What is your background and current role in terms of travel services?
I am an Accredited Practising Dietitian (equivalent of Registered Dietitian in Australia), nutritionist and frequent flyer. I regularly travel for both business and holidays, and have been a tiered frequent flyer for many years. Having Oneworld Emerald status has given me with the unique advantage of being able to put myself in my ‘clients shoes’ – I understand and know the experience frequent flyers have when travelling. This allows me to provide realistic and useful advice as I regularly travel across all classes of flying and have access to over 1000 airline and third-party lounges around the world. Similarly I have stayed in many hotels and am a tiered member of most of the big chains. I know what the breakfast spreads are like in these hotels as well as the food on offer in their club and executive lounges. I see all of this as very important, because while any dietitian or nutritionist can provide nutrition advice, if you don’t understand the environment of your client, then advice provided can be ineffective and non-realistic.
My passion is helping people who travel a lot be at their healthiest. Especially when flying, a lot of food choices are out of a person’s control – add to that the stresses and physiological issues of flying on the body, the unfamiliarity with food in different cultures, add in exhaustion and fatigue from working, and you have the perfect storm for the effects of poor nutrition on health.
I provide a range of nutrition travel services; from individual and personalised advice for frequent travellers, advice and seminars for corporate work places with employees who travel regularly, and consultancy services to the travel industry. All of these are aimed at helping people make the best food choices they can while travelling, to help them not only be healthy, but also still enjoy what they eat too and the travel experience.
Can you describe what a typical customer wants in terms of this service?
A typical customer? There certainly isn’t a ‘typical’ customer as there are so many different facets of travel nutrition. But for me, my main aims for providing travel nutrition advice (and what I take into account) across all areas: nutritionally appropriate (nutrition needs and goals), taste and food quality (food needs to be tasty and delicious), and feasibility (is the food/meal available, ingredient supplies/cost etc).
Where do you see gaps and opportunities in the service?
I see the nutrition of meals and foods provided on airplanes and at hotels etc as a huge opportunity. From my experience the focus tends to be on quality of food and decadence, rather than if it healthy or nutritious. I have seen some hotels start to provide nutrition information on their menu’s which is great but I see this as only the beginning. There are still a lot more opportunities to continue to improve the foods to people who are travelling. Further the food of different cultures, unfamiliarity, and the temptation to “try something new” are all added complexities. There are also many food service challenges when it come with providing meals on planes, in hotels, on trains etc and dietitians, who are trained in food service, can leverage their knowledge
to assist catering companies and airlines in providing both good quality and nutritious meals. I think a common misconception is ‘well if it is healthy then it will taste bland or be boring’, but this does not have to be the case. Dietitians partnering with chefs and food technologists can provide help deliver nutritious foods that are of high quality and at the right price.
Also, I think nutrition and dietetic researchers will conduct research to understand more about the nutrient requirements while travelling across time zones and being awake for long periods of time.
See the rest of the interview here
If you would like to learn more how my travel nutrition service can work for you – then send me a query!