Maybe it's because our parents always reminded us about the world's hungry children when we didn't clean our plates in our youth, but there's something about free food that makes well-brought-up, well-fed people such as ourselves feel we have to gorge.
This seems to kick in especially powerfully when travelling. Is it because we've forked out for flights and accommodation that we're determined to eat the airline meal and the chocolate on the hotel pillow too? Buffet breakfast included – let's see just how much we can pack away!
But even if you're over this sort of childishness, travel can be disastrous for the waistline for other reasons.
Diet rules tend to go out the window when regular routines are disrupted, and we seldom prepare our own meals while travelling. Fatigue and stress make it tempting to reach for a sugary, fatty snack for a fleeting pick-me-up. Travelling, ironically, involves a lot of waiting around, especially at airports before flights or during delays, and the nearest eatery beckons.
A little forethought...
As with travel generally though, a little forethought can forestall poor diet habits away from home.
See what your airline has to offer in terms of low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar meal options, and consider taking your own food on flights or long road trips. Healthy ideas for onboard snacks include trail mix, dried fruit, whole wheat biscuits or sandwiches, and fresh vegetables like baby carrots and snap peas. Many airlines are now no longer offering free meals in any case, so you save money too by taking your own. Just find out beforehand if carry-on food is allowed by customs and the airline.
Aim for wholesome, nutritious foods whenever possible during your trip. Trying new exotic dishes is one thing; indulging in any old fast food close to hand is quite another. You wouldn't normally get your meals in the form of vending machine snacks (one hope!) - so don't do it while travelling either.
- Olivia Rose-Innes, Travel and EnviroHealth Editor, Health24, updated May 2012