BlueSky Business Aviation News

Paula Kraft, founder and President of Atlanta, GA-based Tastefully Yours Catering, shares some tips for sticking to your diet!

New Year Resolutions

appy New Year! For the moment, our New Year resolutions seem to be holding fast. Surveys indicate the number one resolution to be made is to get on a diet and lose weight. How many times have I made that resolution over the years?

By now, my thoughts of sticking with the diet are beginning to falter and I sense old habits sneaking back into my routine. I am a dietitian, a chef, a nutritionist -so I am aware of what I need to do to stick to the program, but I am not good at following a diet.

I did recently lose a great deal of weight, and I thought ( if you were having trouble sticking to your diet), I would share some of the things I did that helped even when that one little freshly baked salted caramel truffle brownie beckoned to be taste tested.

Diets are a mind game

In my opinion, diets overall are a mind game. You, as flight crew, have an even more challenging time adhering to any type of diet than those of us at home, on a regimented routine each day of work and home. You have work, almost always away from home, doing what is the number one cause of weight gain - eating out more than three times a week.

You are at the mercy of restaurants, hotels and, most of all, the catering sources you use to provide your inflight meals. As a caterer, I want my food to taste incredible in the air which means that I may use more butter or seasoning than I would at home to overcome the basic pitfalls of aviation catering - drier air, engine sounds, air pressure, to name a few of the things that diminish your taste buds while flying. I am constantly attempting to enhance the flavors you taste at altitude so you will eat and enjoy your meal more, but, I am actually indirectly adding weight to your body. Simply stated, in order to lose weight fewer calories must be ingested.

When you are eating on board, you may add salt to the meal to bring out the flavor . . . or at least try to. Remember, the food you carry on board or reheat on board is, in fact, a leftover. To help maintain moistness, to keep breads from drying to such extreme, we at Tastefully Yours add extra butter to cakes, muffins, and Danish. We increase the egg proportion in many of our prepared items. In an effort to improve flavor, we are increasing calories. So what are you to do? Let’s start with sodium intake. The top items where you find salt are all prepared food items such as cold cuts and cured meats, breads and rolls, pizza, soups, sandwiches. These are all items commonly served to flight crew and passengers. They are easy to eat and easy to handle on board. A fact of science is that you need salt to sustain your body’s functions, but, high sodium can lead to water retention, bloating, high blood pressure, and even heart disease. One study I read stated that the average person consumes almost 4000mg of sodium a day ,when we should be consuming about 1500-2000mg a day. 65% of this sodium comes from processed foods (guess what those deli meats are considered??).

Another means of reducing your weight might be by increasing your exercise program, but, when traveling on the road as much as most of the flight crews do and with irregular flight schedules, this too can be challenging.

Psychological tricks

So let me share a few psychological tricks that are easy to do, and will cost you nothing. You may even find some are fun. Test yourself and see if any of these ideas decrease your daily caloric intake helping reduce your weight.

I have always used a small soup spoon, a salad size fork to eat, but research studies have shown that if you use a large spoon or a large size fork to eat, you will eat less and this will aid in weight reduction. Mothers have always cut their child’s food into small pieces before eating . Arizona State University’s psychology department has proven that you can trick your brain into eating less if you cut your food into smaller pieces. Crazy concept, right? Instead of indulging in a half sandwich at a time, cut it into fourths first. Because you see more pieces on your plate or in your box lunch your brain will be tricked into thinking you are eating more, and the result will be to eat less.

Alcohol has a lot of empty calories. A nice glass of wine or a cocktail is a great way to enjoy a meal, but, as a British Medical Journal recently stated “ an individual consumes 30% more alcohol when they use a wide, short glass than a tall slender one. “ What a simple way to reduce calorie intake! Try wine from a fluted glass rather than the proper elegant red wine barrel glass. I think we can start a new trend here.

So far these psychological ideas are relatively simple to try, but, the next one might be out of your control while in the cockpit or on a business flight. Try not eating in the cockpit, in front of television or while working on the computer. You can eat as much as two times more and even forget you ate and what you had in fairly short order and snack again when your focus is not on the meal and eating, but on work, controls, computers, etc. When possible, eat undisturbed by not performing another task.

Other ways of eating less are to eat pre-portioned foods 

Take the time to scale out (or have your food source) measure and /or weight food into portions for you to eat. Frequently we are asked to provide potato chips, crackers and other snacks by the box. If those items were individually portioned for a single serving in advance, you might find a 54.1% savings in what you eat. Again, it is all about consumption, eating less if you want to lose weight.

I am a very visual person, I believe people eat with their eyes, their imagination and memories first. I have found if you think about the food you may crave or want, see it in your mind, and imagine the aroma of the food, the texture in your mouth, you can satisfy your craving for the food and get past the craving. Believe me, I have done this a lot (but, on the other side I have cheated a bunch with those fresh baked cookies and breads from our kitchen bakery with actual smells and real taste. My scale sends me a resounding message . . . ”oh, no you didn’t”).

Another thought that should be easy for you as flight crews and passengers is to not have the food you want on board; eliminate it from the catering request. Keep those goodies out of reach and your reach is considerable at 35,000 feet.

There are a few other ideas that you can try on board when eating.

First, have your food presented on a small plate. Step down a size on your dinner plate and request the same food on a salad plate. Visually it looks full and your mind feels full when it is consumed. Reduce a salad size plate to an appetizer plate; have soup in a coffee cup rather than a soup bowl. An old catering trick used to reduce portions a guest might help themselves to on an all you can eat buffet, was to give them a smaller plate, provide them with a difficult utensil to eat the food with or to serve themselves ( a small fork or spoon), put the vegetables and salad at the front of the food line so their plate fills with those items over the higher cost meats at the end of the line. Use this technique to place your plate in front of you with the vegetables and lower calories in front of you and any high calorie items away from you.

Another trick used in event catering to reduce the amount of food one eats is to have the plate a different color from the food, so the food stands out on the plate, that none of the food gets lost on the plate causing you to imagine less food.

As you move forward on your resolutions to lose weight, get healthier, trim down, live longer with a healthier life style, you might want to worry less about the foods you consume than the amount of the foods you eat.

I wish you willpower and determination to achieve your New Year’s goals the easy way!


Let me introduce myself . . . 

My name is Paula Kraft and I am founder and President of Tastefully Yours Catering, an aviation specific caterer, located in Atlanta, Georgia for 35 years.

Aviation Catering is a science not taught in Culinary School; it’s a function of experience, experimentation, basic trial and error, with constant feedback from flight crews and clients. It is a two-way communication. It is vital that this information and knowledge be shared throughout the industry. To this end, I have worked as the Chairman of the NBAA Caterer’s Working Group, a subcommittee of the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee, the NBAA Caterer Representative to the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee, for 9 years. 

Currently I am an active member of the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee Advisory Board and the NBAA International Flight Attendant Committee, Women in Corporate Aviation, Women in Aviation International, National Association of Catering Executives, International Flight Catering Association, the International Food Service Association and the International Caterer’s Association.

I have coordinated training programs and clinics for NBAA, EBAA and BA-Meetup conference attendees for over 10 years, created mentoring programs for caterers and flight attendants to broaden their aviation culinary skills, and to assist them in adapting to the unique challenges and constraints found in catering for general aviation. I recognize the need for training and have worked closely with flight departments, flight crews, schedulers and customer service reps at the FBOs to ensure that catering specific training provides information and skills necessary to reduce risk while assisting them in their job duties that include safe food handling, catering security, accurate transmission of food orders, and safe food production, packaging and delivery.

I fell into aviation catering quite by accident. I was the in-house caterer and bakery supplier for Macy’s department stores in Atlanta when catering was ordered for a Macy’s customer which was soon to change my life. After the client enjoyed the catering provided, I was summoned to the client’s corporate office to provide several of the items delivered through Macy’s to the executive dining room. Within a week, I was providing food for the flight department and my first order was for the President of a foreign country (as I was too be told soon after). So, here I am, some 35 years later, still loving every minute of every day in aviation catering.

Got a question?

Paula welcomes your comments, questions or feedback


©BlueSky Business Aviation News Ltd | 17th January 2013 | Issue #207
BlueSky - your weekly business and executive aviation news - every Thursday

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