Flying the “diet-friendly” skies gets easier; says USA Today

That was the headline — but “easier” doesn’t necessarily mean healthier.

No, I wasn’t flying Virgin America; I was on Southwest, which wasn’t in the survey.

While flying from Providence to BWI recently, I noticed an article in USA Today that caught my attention. The author graded eleven airlines on a scale of one to five stars. Only two of them got 4 stars or more.

Virgin America at 4.25 stars and Air Canada with 4.0 stars. And since both had healthy choices that featured things like turkey, chicken and yogurt; I that knew the offerings from the other airlines would be worse.

My 4Leaf Breakfast. While reading the article, I enjoyed my own 4Leaf breakfast of sliced pear, orange, banana and strawberries. I had prepared my meal at home and was carrying it in a Ziploc bag. After reaching cruising altitude, I emptied my fresh fruit into my Starbucks cup and used my plastic fork to enjoy the healthiest and tastiest breakfast on the airplane—by far.

My empty Starbucks cup made the perfect container for my 4Leaf Fruit Cup.

Then I decided to research the founder and CEO of Virgin America, Richard Branson. I have always thought of him as an enlightened, creative executive who thinks outside the box—and has been darn successful in taking that road less traveled. A quick internet search revealed that he is a generous man who is quite willing to share his billions with worthy humanitarian and environmental causes.

All of the above convinced me that I should send him a proposal for a 4Leaf for Life health promotion consulting engagement within his vast Virgin empire. He is the kind of guy that others are used to following. When it comes to market research, he just follows his gut to tell him what his customers want. Reminds me a lot of my former boss, Ralph Lauren, in this regard.

My search for that first CEO health promotion client remains my #1 priority—and will stay there until that special executive out there accepts our proposal to totally change the way businesses think about wellness. And by so doing, he/she will plant the seeds for totally changing the way our nation—and the world—thinks about healthcare (disease care). The title of my latest five-page service document is:

Corporate Wellness—The 4Leaf Vision for a Whole New Ballgame

Mr. Richard Branson will be hearing from me soon.

Meanwhile, back to the article in USA Today. Don’t believe the title; you’re not likely to find anything remotely healthy on an airline anytime soon—despite what the CUNY professor says in the article:

The airlines are serving more meals and offering healthier and higher-quality food choices than last, says Charles Stuart Platkin, an assistant professor at CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York who’s assessed airline food’s nutritional value in seven annual surveys.

“A few airlines are realizing that, if they pay attention to food, they can increase customer experience and satisfaction,” says Platkin, who edits the website “Calorie-laden, unhealthy, heavy foods have been shown in research to negatively impact mood.”

Virgin America offers the healthiest food in Platkin’s nutritional survey this year. “This airline is off the charts when it comes to focusing on food,” he says.

Needed a “657” airplane today.

If you care about what the other airlines scored, a link to the article is provided below. For more tips on really eating healthy on the road, see the second link. —My 657th consecutive daily blog—

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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4 Responses to Flying the “diet-friendly” skies gets easier; says USA Today

  1. Joanne Irwin says:

    Below is quoted from a Nutrition Video by Dr. Michael Greger, Ph.D., MD: Dr. Greger is a highly respected member of the plant based family whose daily videos on the link between nutrition and disease are backed by substantive research. One cup of joe is not harmful. Other members of the family, including Dr. Neal Barnard, have stated as much. However, folks with high blood pressure need to be aware and cautious of ingesting ‘stimulant’ substances known to raise BP; caffeine is a stimulant! Being the purist that I am, one cup of coffee daily is just fine.

    “Last year, a study entitled “Impact of Acute Caffeine Ingestion on Endothelial Function in Subjects With and Without Coronary Artery Disease” was published in the American Journal of Cardiology. They performed the most rigorous investigation to date, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study that found that caffeine significantly improved endothelial function. They concluded “In conclusion, acute caffeine ingestion significantly improved endothelial function assessed by brachial artery FMD in subjects with and without CAD and was associated with lower plasma markers of inflammation.” That was for the amount of caffeine found in about 2 cups of coffee, 4 cups of black tea, or 8 cups of green. Similar benefits were found previously at a higher dose (3, 6, and 12 cups respectively).

    So why do studies on brewed coffee, espresso, and energy drinks show negative effects? Well, there are a lot of other substances in these beverages besides caffeine, some of which may also be removed in the decaffeination process. Since there appear to be compounds in coffee that both impair and improve endothelial function (whereas in tea, both green and black, it appears to be all improvement), one might turn to epidemiological studies to look at overall risk and benefit of coffee consumption (see, for example, my Update on Coffee and Coffee and Cancer).

    Though filtered coffee may be good, the evidence supporting the benefits of green tea are much stronger and more consistent. So I continue to recommend people drink tea instead of coffee, not because coffee is bad for you, but because green tea appears to be much better. More on caffeine can be found in my video What About the Caffeine?”

    • Always good to spread the word on the prodigious work of Dr. Michael Greger. I Look forward to “Latest in Clinical Nutrition volume 11 DVD” as I’ve all his earlier DVDs.

      I remember his “What About the Caffeine” cited by Joanne Irwin. Her “one cup of coffee daily is just fine.” may well be conservative. How many stop at one? Does it matter?

      Even though most of his intriguing work is on internet, I like having the DVDs.
      In coming years with computer and TV better integrated this will sound odd.

      It’s frustrating to see polar opposites from those on our short list of experts.
      So far, I see no dispute over the value of brachial artery testing after eating.
      Surprise! Bad effects of a high fat breakfast last for several hours. Duh..
      Coffee is wonderful for us! Hope this is more than “confirmation bias.”
      The concept of “Biochemical Individuality must play a role in research.

      “When experts are agreed, the opposite opinion can not be held as certain.
      When they disagree no opinion can be held as certain by a non-expert.”
      (Bertrand Russell) Above quote is close to the sense of original.

  2. Sal Liggieri says:

    Airlines . . . don’t believe it.

    Last month I flew to London on Virgin Atlantic, upper class. I had ordered a vegan meal for the flight.

    In upper class (which is expensive) you are entitled to go to the lounge at the airport where you can get a waitress served meal. There was nothing on the menu that was remotely vegan, so I didn’t eat. On the flight itself, the Vegan meal I ordered was nowhere to be found so all I had was tomato juice. The return trip was more of the same. Maybe Virgin thinks vegans don’t eat or they don’t count.

    My experience with the food on my trip to England (London) and Ireland (Dublin) was all bad. No better than in America.

    Yes change is coming, but when?

    Sal Liggieri

    My recent FRA to JFK flight had good vegan offerings.
    The flight attendant understood vegan meaning. Nice!
    The misunderstandings on “vegetarian” abound. Alas.

    With all respect to Starbucks, the jury is out on coffee.
    Dr. Esselstyn states that caffeine harms endothelium.
    But he says that it’s OK to drink decaffeinated coffee.
    In Vienna, I actually preferred Starbucks to several
    fancy local coffee shops having free newspapers,
    I may have to give up my only drug of choice

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