When you have a long flight, the last thing you would want is your stomach to feel upset or uneasy. If you make the right food choices, you can avoid any kind of discomfort when you’re in the air.
Flights can be scary enough for some people, but eating the wrong foods before flying will definitely make your trip even worse. Leaving aside the pre-flight anxiety, the endless baggage lines, security checkpoints and screaming children, the food you eat before boarding plays an important role in how your traveling is gonna be.
Unfortunately, the food you can buy from most airports is quite greasy, mostly burgers, oily pizza or a liquid lunch at a concourse bar. Anyway, the options are limited. However, if you’re disciplined and you avoid the gut-busting trifecta of grease, alcohol, and carbonation, you can enjoy a bloat-free flight.
Also, remember to drink lots of water to keep you hydrated, eat some carrot sticks and nuts, and check out what foods are banned for pre-flight consumption. Keep your stomach at bay when you’re in the air by avoiding these 7 potentially troublesome foods.
Avoid: Broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts
These cruciferous vegetables are extremely healthy when they’re consumed on a daily basis, however, they can also make you gassy, according to Caroline Passerrello, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Cruciferous vegetables can sit in the large intestine for several hours while your body is trying to digest them, and once you add in the pressurized cabin, your body will find it a lot harder to process, resulting in bloating.
These greens pack lots of fiber and a type of sugar called raffinose that is known to cause gas, which is a reason for bloating in many people, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).
If you don’t want to be an unpleasant seatmate once you’re in the air, stay away from broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts one day before your flight.
“Because of the change in altitude and breathing patterns, flying can cause dehydration,” says Passerrello.
Alcohol consumption will only add to that. Also, consuming spiked beverages can leave you exhausted post-flight, even if you swear that whiskey makes you more relaxed.
“Although alcohol may make you feel sleepy initially, alcoholic beverages could cause disturbed sleep, preventing you from feeling rested when you land,” adds Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table.
Coffee usually dehydrates the body, so it is better to skip any caffeinated drinks when traveling by plane. If you’re a coffee addict and you just can’t say no to it, Passerrello suggests drinking even more water to keep up your liquid levels.
“Caffeine is also a stimulant and could keep you from catching up on important sleep time while in flight,” says Taub-Dix.
In addition, coffee is a diuretic drink, so caffeine drinks consumption will make you pee more, and unnecessarily anxious due to the effect of the caffeine, which can be very annoying when you’re traveling and you’re trying to sleep.
Avoid: Sugary foods
According to IFFGD, the foods that are high in certain carbohydrates (especially sugars ) can make you gassy, and this is the last thing you would want when traveling by plane. Also, lactose and dairy product consumption can cause discomfort for some people, and so does fructose, which can be found in onions, artichokes, pears, and wheat.
Another substance you might want to avoid is sorbitol, it is found in fruits like apples, peaches, and prunes and sugar-free snacks.
Legumes are filled with insoluble fiber. Foods like beans, lentils, and chickpeas can cause severe bloating and gas in many people due to their digestive process, says the IFFGD.
Legumes have a bad rap for being another major gas culprit. Many types of beans naturally contain indigestible complex sugars that make your body bloat like crazy. If you can’t live without a traditional English breakfast with a side of baked beans, try soaking the beans overnight which helps in eliminating many of the problem sugars that cause bloating.
Avoid: Heavy meals
Tempted by those unhealthy airport fast-food restaurants? Most people crave a burger and fries or a plate of pasta just before boarding, but that’s probably not a good idea. It’s important to know that digestion is even harder for your body to do while you’re in the air at 35,000 feet.
Add that to the fact that the human digestive system is already processing saturated fats, it can be very easy to upset your stomach. Also, scientists have discovered that eating saturated fat can constrict blood flow, increasing the risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
“A belly full of dense foods can potentially upset your stomach,” says Taub-Dix.
Avoid: Big portion sizes
A full tummy won’t make you feel good, especially when you’re flying. You want to feel full but not completely stuffed, says Taub-Dix.
What overeating does is upset your stomach and promote gas production, and trust me, you don’t want to experience neither on a packed plane.
Stash: Healthy pre-packed snacks
“There are a lot of portable snacks that can hold you over until you land and become even more important should you get delayed,” says Passerrello, who suggests eating foods like unsweetened dried fruit, unsalted nuts, tuna or chicken pouches, dried edamame, or dry cereal.
The Bare Natural Apple Chips is always a good idea, crunchy baked apples in a snack pack, or for a sweet treat, Skinnydipped Almonds, almonds that are lightly dipped in dark chocolate.
“Personally, my go-to carry-on has a hard case for glasses and I re-purpose that space for keeping a small banana so it doesn’t get smashed,” she says.
Stash: Protein and carbs
“Pair whole grain carbs with protein and healthy fat to keep blood sugar levels stable and help you feel satisfied,” says Taub-Dix.
There are some solid options, like almond butter on whole-grain crackers or a mix of unsalted nuts and dried fruit. The good thing about these two options is that you can pack them before you even get to the airport.
A protein bar is also a good idea that helps your digestion process.
“Try to drink a glass of water for every hour you are in the air,” suggests Passerrello.
And Taub-Dix agrees. She suggests thinking of drinking water as you wash your hands for a meal. “Do it before, during, and after,” she says.