Better Cabin Crew Meals: A Flight Attendant’s Comprehensive Guide to In-Flight Nutrition

Elevate Your In-Flight Wellbeing with Expert Tips on Healthier Diet Choices

Introduction: Taking Control of In-Flight Nutrition

As seasoned cabin crew members, we understand that our job demands peak performance and resilience in the skies. With erratic schedules, jet lag, and long hours, one thing we can proactively manage is our nutrition. Proper in-flight nutrition not only keeps us alert but also enhances our overall health. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about in-flight nutrition, from meal choices to carry-on recipes and why it’s advantageous to pack your own food instead of cabin crew meals.

1.1 Fueling Your Body for Healthy Flying

As dedicated flight attendants, we understand the unique challenges of our profession. Long hours on our feet, constant movement in confined spaces, and the ever-changing altitudes we encounter demand special attention to our nutrition. Here’s how to ensure your body is adequately fueled for healthy flying:

In-flight nutrition for Flight Attendants

Flight attendants have distinct nutritional needs due to the nature of our work. Here are some key considerations:

1. Hydration is Paramount: Maintaining proper hydration is essential for us as cabin crew members. The dry cabin air and high altitudes can lead to dehydration, which can cause fatigue and discomfort. Drink water consistently throughout the flight to stay adequately hydrated. And if you often forget to drink onboard or if your bathroom visits have you wondering if you’re secretly a human highlighter (hopefully just the yellow one), you definitely need to check our blog post about how we manage to stay hydrated, especially during long flights!

five glasses of water with a slice of lemon on a white surface.

2. Balanced Nutrition: Aim for balanced meals that include a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide quick energy, while proteins help with muscle repair and overall satiety. Healthy fats, like those found in avocados or nuts, are excellent for sustained energy.

3. Snack Smart: On longer flights, it’s crucial to have nutritious snacks readily available. Opt for options like unsalted nuts, protein bars, or fresh fruits to keep your energy levels stable. These snacks can be a lifesaver during delays or on really busy flights.

Guide to Balanced Meals in A Cabin Crew Diet

four portions of cabin crew meals prepared with rice, falafel, tomatoes, chickpeas, potatoes.

Creating well-balanced meals is a fundamental aspect of in-flight nutrition. Here’s how to build a nutritious meal plan:

1. Pre-Flight Planning: Before your flight, take some time to plan your meals. Think about the duration of your flight and when you’ll have breaks. Pack accordingly, considering easy-to-carry items that won’t spoil.

2. Incorporate Lean Proteins: Lean proteins like grilled chicken, turkey, or tofu are essential for maintaining energy and muscle strength. They also help you feel full for longer periods.

3. Whole Grains for Sustained Energy: Foods like brown rice, quinoa, or whole-grain bread provide complex carbohydrates, releasing energy gradually, which is perfect for those long flights.

4. Plenty of Vegetables: Include a variety of colorful vegetables in your meals to ensure you get a range of vitamins and minerals. They also add fiber to your diet, aiding digestion.

5. Healthy Fats: Avocado, nuts, and olive oil are sources of healthy fats that provide lasting energy and are good for your heart.

6. Don’t Forget Fluids: In addition to water, consider herbal teas or electrolyte drinks to replenish vital nutrients and minerals lost during a flight.

By following this flight attendant’s guide to balanced meals and staying mindful of your in-flight nutrition, you can boost your stamina, stay sharp, and better cope with the demands of our job.

Section 3: What to Avoid In-Flight

When it comes to in-flight nutrition, it’s not only important to focus on what you should eat but also to be aware of what to avoid. One of the key pitfalls to steer clear of is excessive sodium intake. Here’s why it’s crucial to be cautious about salty snacks and cabin crew meals when you’re on duty:

3.1 The Salt Trap: Foods to Steer Clear Of

Salty Snacks: A Cabin Crew’s Adversary
salted almonds in a bowl

Salty snacks can be tempting, especially when you’re working in a cabin where passengers are indulging in them, and of course in the lounge. However, it’s essential to recognize that these snacks can be a real adversary to our in-flight well-being. Here’s why you should be mindful of salty snacks:

  • Dehydration: Salty snacks, such as chips, pretzels, or salty nuts, are loaded with sodium. Sodium can lead to increased thirst and fluid retention, which can exacerbate dehydration, a common issue during flights due to the dry cabin air.
  • Bloated Feeling: Sodium-rich foods can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable, which is far from ideal when you’re navigating tight aisles full of customers.
  • Increased Blood Pressure: Overconsumption of sodium can lead to elevated blood pressure, which is a concern, especially for those with underlying health conditions. High altitude can already stress your cardiovascular system, so it’s essential to minimize any additional strain.
Why Sodium Spells Trouble at High Altitudes

High altitudes can amplify the effects of sodium in several ways:

  • Increased Thirst: At high altitudes, the air is drier, and the lower humidity can increase your thirst. Consuming salty snacks can make you drink even more, potentially leading to frequent bathroom breaks, which can be inconvenient during a flight, especially for the colleague who is double-handling the cart with you!
  • Fluid Retention: The lower cabin pressure at high altitudes can affect how your body retains fluids. Consuming excessive sodium can exacerbate fluid retention, leading to discomfort and a feeling of puffiness.
  • Taste Perception: High altitudes can dull your taste buds, making it tempting to reach for salty snacks to enhance flavor. However, this can lead to overindulgence and the negative consequences mentioned above.

In conclusion, while it’s okay to enjoy a salty treat occasionally, it’s wise to limit your intake of salty snacks when you’re on duty as a flight attendant. Instead, opt for healthier snack options like unsalted nuts, fresh fruits, or protein bars. By avoiding the salt trap and being mindful of your sodium intake, you can help maintain your hydration, comfort, and overall well-being during your flight. Your body will thank you for it!

Section 4: Best Alternatives to Cabin Crew Meals

Having a stash of ready-to-eat, nutritious meals can be a game-changer during our busy shifts. Here are some delicious recipes you can easily prepare and carry with you on your flight:

4.1 Go Nuts!

Crafting Your Perfect Cabin Crew Trail Mix
Cabin Crew Meals: quickest alternative

Creating your trail mix allows you to customize it to your liking. Start with a base of unsalted nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts. Add some dried fruits like cranberries or apricots for a touch of sweetness. For an extra energy boost, mix in a handful of dark chocolate chips. This trail mix provides a balance of healthy fats, protein, and natural sugars to keep you energized throughout your flight.

Dry fruits as figs, dates and apricots in a white bowl
Here’s a quick recipe to get you started:


  • 1 cup unsalted almonds
  • 1 cup unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup unsalted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Store your trail mix in individual portions in resealable bags or containers for easy access during your flight.

4.2 Quinoa Salad: A Healthy Flying Staple

a plate with quinoa, broccoli and other vegetable on a table, surrounded by other vegetables
Wholesome Quinoa Salad: one of Cabin Crew Meals’ Favorite alternatives

Quinoa salad is a go-to choice for many cabin crew members because it’s packed with nutrients and can be prepared in advance. Cook quinoa and mix it with diced vegetables like cucumber, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Add some chickpeas for protein and a light vinaigrette dressing for flavor. This salad offers a perfect combination of carbohydrates, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals.

Quinoa Salad Recipe for In-Flight Bliss

Here’s a simple recipe:


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly, then cook it in two cups of water according to package instructions. Let it cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, cucumber, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, and chickpeas.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat evenly.
  5. Store your quinoa salad in a container and refrigerate until you’re ready to take it on your flight.

4.3 Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich: The Ultimate In-Flight Sustenance

a plate with 2 slices of bread and peanut butter and a board with sliced pieces of banana
Peanut Butter Power: Cabin Crew’s Favorite Sandwich

The classic peanut butter and banana sandwich is a beloved choice among cabin crew members for its simplicity and nutritional value. Spread natural peanut butter on whole-grain bread, and add banana slices for a delightful combination of protein, healthy fats, and natural sugars. This satisfying sandwich will keep you full and fueled throughout your flight.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Peanut Butter and Banana Delight

Here’s a quick recipe:


  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced


  1. Spread peanut butter evenly on one slice of bread.
  2. Place banana slices on top of the peanut butter.
  3. Top with the second slice of bread to create a sandwich.
  4. Cut the sandwich in half if desired, and pack it in a container or resealable bag for easy transport.

4.4 Greek Yogurt Parfait: In-Flight Delight

Greek yogurt parfaits and a sprinkle of granola.
Parfait Perfection: A Cabin Crew’s Choice

Greek yogurt parfaits are a tasty and protein-packed treat. Layer Greek yogurt with fresh berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries) and a sprinkle of granola. This parfait offers a balanced blend of protein, fiber, and antioxidants, making it an ideal in-flight choice.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Greek Yogurt Parfait


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (preferably low-fat or non-fat)
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • 1/4 cup granola


  1. In a portable container or jar, start with a layer of Greek yogurt.
  2. Add a layer of mixed berries.
  3. Sprinkle granola on top.
  4. Repeat the layers until the container is filled.
  5. Seal the container and refrigerate until you’re ready to enjoy it during your flight.

4.5 Fruit Salad with a Twist: Tropical Bliss

a fruit salad made with mango, berries, cherries in a black bowl
Fruit Fusion: A Cabin Crew’s Tropical Escape

Escape to the tropics with a refreshing fruit salad. Combine fresh fruit like pineapple chunks, mango slices, kiwi, and a handful of mint leaves. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the fruit for an invigorating twist. This fruit salad provides natural sugars, vitamins, and hydration, perfect for a mid-flight pick-me-up. Or you can just eat some fruits from the business class cart. In some companies the fruit is sprayed with some sugar though, so be mindful of that too.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Tropical Fruit Salad


  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup mango slices
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime


  1. In a bowl, combine the pineapple chunks, mango slices, and kiwi.
  2. Add a few fresh mint leaves for extra flavor.
  3. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the fruit.
  4. Toss gently to mix.
  5. Pack the fruit salad in a portable container for an exotic in-flight treat.

4.6 Rice Cake Delight: Crispy and Savory

Rice Cake Crunch: A Cabin Crew’s Light Bite

For a light and crispy snack, consider rice cakes with a savory twist. Spread a thin layer of low-fat cream cheese on rice cakes and top with slices of smoked salmon. Garnish with fresh dill or chives for added flavor. This combination offers a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Rice Cake Delight


  • Rice cakes
  • Low-fat cream cheese
  • Smoked salmon slices
  • Fresh dill or chives (for garnish)


  1. Spread a thin layer of low-fat cream cheese on each rice cake.
  2. Place slices of smoked salmon on top.
  3. Garnish with fresh dill or chives.
  4. Stack the rice cakes and wrap them in plastic wrap for easy transport.

4.7 Hummus and Veggie Sticks: Crunchy and Flavorful

container of hummus along with sliced , carrots, celery and crackers.
Hummus Heaven: A Cabin Crew’s Snack of Choice

Consider packing a container of hummus along with sliced cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, and celery. Interestingly, on some airlines, these vegetable and hummus combinations are among the most nutritious and appealing food choices available. So, if you ever find yourself without a pre-prepared meal for your flight, these items should be at the top of your list for cabin crew meals. Dip the veggies into the hummus for a satisfying and fiber-rich snack that keeps you feeling full and energized.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Hummus and Veggie Sticks


  • 1 container of hummus (store-bought or homemade)
  • Assorted veggie sticks (cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, celery)


  1. Portion hummus into a small container with a secure lid.
  2. Slice the veggies into sticks for easy dipping.
  3. Pack the hummus and veggie sticks together for an on-the-go snack.

4.8 Oatmeal with Nut Butter: A Cozy and Filling Breakfast

Oatmeal Oasis: A Cabin Crew’s Morning Bliss

A warm bowl of oatmeal with nut butter can be a comforting and filling breakfast option. Prepare instant oatmeal packets or bring your own pre-portioned oats. Add hot water, stir, and then swirl in a spoonful of your favorite nut butter for extra flavor and protein.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Nut Butter Oatmeal


  • Instant oatmeal packets or pre-portioned oats
  • Hot water
  • Nut butter of your choice (e.g., almond, peanut, or cashew)


  1. Prepare the oatmeal according to package instructions using hot water.
  2. Stir in a generous spoonful of nut butter until it’s well incorporated.
  3. Allow it to cool slightly, and it’s ready to enjoy as a warm and filling breakfast.

4.9 Mixed Bean Salad: Fiber and Protein Powerhouse

two cabin crew meals prepared for the flight, with chickpeas, avocado, rice, lemon and souce.
Bean Bonanza: A Cabin Crew’s Satisfying Salad

A mixed bean salad is an excellent source of both fiber and protein. Combine canned beans (such as black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas) with diced bell peppers, red onion, and a light vinaigrette dressing. This salad is hearty, nutritious, and perfect for a substantial in-flight meal.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Mixed Bean Salad


  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • Light vinaigrette dressing (store-bought or homemade)


  1. In a large bowl, combine the drained and rinsed beans, diced bell pepper, and chopped red onion.
  2. Toss the salad with a light vinaigrette dressing for added flavor.
  3. Store the mixed bean salad in a container with a secure lid for a satisfying in-flight meal.

4.10 Turkey and Avocado Wrap: A Protein-Packed Choice

someone holding a turkey and avocado wrap sliced in half and some drops of lemon are being dropped on it.
Wrap Wonder: A Cabin Crew’s Protein Boost

For a protein-packed option, consider a turkey and avocado wrap. Spread a thin layer of mustard on a whole-grain tortilla, add lean turkey slices, fresh avocado, and some spinach leaves. Roll it up for a delicious and balanced meal that provides sustained energy.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Turkey and Avocado Wrap


  • 1 whole-grain tortilla
  • Mustard (to taste)
  • Lean turkey slices
  • Sliced avocado
  • Spinach leaves


  1. Spread mustard evenly over the whole-grain tortilla.
  2. Layer the turkey slices, sliced avocado, and spinach leaves on top.
  3. Roll up the tortilla tightly and secure it with a toothpick if needed.
  4. Slice the wrap in half and place it in a container for easy transport.

4.11 Grilled Chicken and Veggie Wrap: Protein-Packed Wrap

A grilled chicken and veggie wrap sliced in half on a plate
Grilled Goodness: A Cabin Crew’s Protein Powerhouse

A grilled chicken and veggie wrap is a fantastic way to pack in protein and nutrients. Grill or sauté chicken breast until cooked through, and then slice it into strips. Spread hummus on a whole-grain tortilla, add the grilled chicken, and top with fresh veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Roll it up for a delicious and satisfying in-flight meal.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Grilled Chicken and Veggie Wrap


  • 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 whole-grain tortilla
  • Hummus
  • Fresh lettuce leaves
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced cucumbers


  1. Spread hummus evenly over the whole-grain tortilla.
  2. Place grilled chicken slices on top.
  3. Add fresh lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers.
  4. Roll up the tortilla tightly and secure it with a toothpick if needed.
  5. Slice the wrap in half and pack it in a container for a protein-packed in-flight meal.

4.12 Veggie Wrap: A Mid-Flight Refresher

A veggie wrap with spread hummus on a whole-grain tortilla and fill it with a variety of fresh vegetables like  tomatoes, mais and avocado.
Veggie Delight: A Cabin Crew’s Refreshing Choice

For a light and nutritious option, consider a veggie wrap. Spread hummus on a whole-grain tortilla and fill it with a variety of fresh vegetables like lettuce, cucumber, bell peppers, and carrots. Roll it up for a satisfying, on-the-go meal that’s packed with fiber and vitamins. This is one of the easiest to prepare and healthiest choices for a cabin crew that doesn´t have much time to prepare their meals and wants a quick alternative.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Veggie Wrap


  • 1 whole-grain tortilla
  • 2 tablespoons hummus
  • Assorted veggies (lettuce, cucumber, bell peppers, carrots), sliced


  1. Spread hummus evenly over the whole-grain tortilla.
  2. Layer the sliced vegetables on top.
  3. Roll up the tortilla tightly, securing it with a toothpick if needed.
  4. Slice the wrap in half and place it in a container for easy transport.

4.13 Turkey and Quinoa Salad: Protein and Fiber Combo

Turkey Triumph: A Cabin Crew’s Protein and Fiber Combo

This turkey and quinoa salad offers a satisfying blend of lean protein and fiber. Cook quinoa in advance and combine it with sliced lean turkey, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a light balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It’s a filling and nutritious option to keep you energized during your flight.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Turkey and Quinoa Salad


  • Cooked quinoa
  • Sliced lean turkey
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing


  1. In a bowl, combine cooked quinoa, sliced lean turkey, cherry tomatoes, and sliced cucumber.
  2. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and toss to combine.
  3. Pack the turkey and quinoa salad in a container for a satisfying in-flight meal.

4.14 Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry: A Plant-Based Delight

Tofu Temptation: A Cabin Crew’s Plant-Based Option

For a plant-based, protein-rich option, consider a tofu and veggie stir-fry. Cube tofu and stir-fry it with a medley of colorful vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, and snap peas. Season with a flavorful stir-fry sauce and serve it over cooked brown rice or quinoa.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry


  • Firm tofu, cubed
  • Assorted vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas)
  • Stir-fry sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • Cooked brown rice or quinoa


  1. In a skillet, stir-fry cubed tofu and assorted vegetables until cooked and slightly crispy.
  2. Add stir-fry sauce to the pan and stir until everything is coated.
  3. Serve the tofu and veggie stir-fry over cooked brown rice or quinoa.
  4. Pack the meal in a container for a plant-based, protein-packed in-flight delight.

4.15 Turkey and Avocado Salad: Lean and Satisfying

Turkey Tango: A Cabin Crew’s Lean and Satisfying Salad

A turkey and avocado salad is a lean and satisfying option. Combine sliced lean turkey, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and mixed greens. Drizzle with a light vinaigrette dressing for a flavorful and filling salad.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Turkey and Avocado Salad


  • Sliced lean turkey
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Mixed greens
  • Light vinaigrette dressing


  1. In a bowl, combine sliced lean turkey, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and mixed greens.
  2. Drizzle with light vinaigrette dressing and toss gently to coat.
  3. Pack the turkey and avocado salad in a container for a lean and satisfying in-flight meal.

4.16 Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl: Flavorful Protein Feast

A teriyaki chicken rice bowl with broccoli
Teriyaki Temptation: A Cabin Crew’s Flavorful Feast

A teriyaki chicken rice bowl is a flavorful protein feast that’s easy to prepare and enjoy on the go. Cook chicken breast in teriyaki sauce and serve it over cooked brown rice. Add steamed broccoli and sliced carrots for a balanced and satisfying meal.

Quick Recipe: Flight Attendants’ Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl


  • Chicken breast, sliced
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Cooked brown rice
  • Steamed broccoli florets
  • Sliced carrots


  1. Cook chicken breast in teriyaki sauce until fully cooked and coated with the sauce.
  2. Serve the teriyaki chicken over cooked brown rice.
  3. Add steamed broccoli florets and sliced carrots as sides.
  4. Pack the teriyaki chicken rice bowl in a container for a flavorful protein feast during your flight.

Section 5: The Case for Packing Your Own Food

As cabin crew with many years of experience on our backs, we understand the importance of having control over our diets during our flights. The choice between the cabin crew meals provided by the airline and packing your own food is a critical decision for ensuring optimal in-flight nutrition and well-being. In this section, we’ll explore why packing your own food is a good idea and how it can positively impact your comfort and performance.

5.1 The Frozen and Defrosted Dilemma

Cabin Crew Meals: The Frozen Truth

The cabin crew meals you find onboard are typically prepared in advance, frozen, and then defrosted before serving. While this process is necessary for mass catering, it can have implications for the quality of the food we consume during our flights. The frozen and defrosted dilemma includes concerns about:

  • Texture Alterations: Freezing and defrosting can affect the texture of the food, sometimes leading to a less appetizing experience. Vegetables may become mushy, and proteins can lose their tenderness.
  • Nutritional Content: The freezing and thawing process can also impact the nutritional content of the food. Certain vitamins and minerals may degrade during these stages, potentially leading to a loss of essential nutrients.
Why Fresh Is Best: Flight Attendants’ Insights

Packing your own food addresses these concerns by ensuring you have access to fresher and more nutritious options. Freshly prepared meals are a superior choice compared to the cabin crew meals provided by the airline, as they are less likely to undergo undesirable texture alterations and maintain a higher percentage of their original nutritional value.

5.2 Salted Skies: Managing Sodium Levels

a bowl and two spoons full of white salt and a white flower close to the bawl
Taming the Salt Monster: Flight Attendants’ Perspective

Cabin crew meals are often seasoned with higher levels of sodium to enhance flavor. This practice is due to the fact that our taste buds don’t work as effectively at high altitudes, making food taste blander. However, excessive sodium intake, as we already discussed, can lead to a range of health issues, including dehydration and elevated blood pressure.

Why Cabin Crew Should Control Their Sodium Intake

Packing your own meals allows you to take control of your sodium intake. You can choose ingredients and seasonings that align with your dietary preferences and health goals. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re not inadvertently consuming excessive salt during your flights, which is especially important for your overall well-being.

Conclusions: Camin Crew Meals vs. Packing Your Own Meals

Packing your own food is the better option for cabin crew members. It provides you with fresher, healthier meal options, enables you to control your sodium intake, and allows you to meet your unique dietary needs and preferences. By making informed choices about your in-flight nutrition, you can enhance your comfort, maintain your energy levels, and continue to enjoy your life through the sky to the fullest!

If you know some other awesome recipes or want to suggest some tweaks to the recipes listed in the article, post a comment or contact us and we will be happy to try your creation! If it satisfies our fine palates, we may include them in our awesome list! ????

Enjoy your meal guys, and see you to the next post!

Flight Attendants Nation

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