‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to spread holiday cheer than by hopping in a plane to visit your loved ones or by traveling to an exciting new place? While our minds are often preoccupied with thoughts about long security lines, rushing to get to your gate on time, or airport parking logistics, there is one thing that deserves more of your attention before you fly: your food choices.
That’s because what you eat before boarding can significantly influence your flight experience. And sometimes that’s for the worse. We’re talking dealing with the discomfort of bloating, excess gas, or an urgent need for the bathroom at 30,000 feet above the ground—not an ideal scenario for vacation travel.
We may not be able to control the chaos you experience, but one of the ways we want to help your flight go as smoothly as possible is by shedding light on how it can lead to physical discomfort mid-flight. certain flight food and beverage options. So, fasten your seatbelts, and join us as we navigate the foods and drinks science says you should skip before your next flight. Then for more helpful holiday tips, check out 5 Holiday Foods Cardiologists Avoid.
If you’re spending time at the airport and looking for a cheap lunch or dinner before your flight, it can be tempting to grab a plate of chicken fingers and fries. However, there are some reasons you might want to reconsider!
For starters, fatty foods contain high levels of fat, and high-fat foods take longer to digest than protein and carbohydrates. If your fries, chicken fingers, and onion rings sit in your stomach for a long time, it is more likely to lead to bloating and a possible upset stomach.
It’s uncomfortable enough to sit on a long flight with a rumbling stomach, but because fatty foods sit in the stomach longer, they can lead to heartburn or severe acid reflux in people who are more prone to these symptoms. .Now that sounds like a stressful flight.
Foods with high sodium
Maybe you drink a beer with chips and salsa before your flight, or maybe you grab a bag of potato chips to tide you over until you get to your destination. Although snacking on something tasty can be enjoyable before you travel, be careful about how much sodium you consume before you board the plane.
Due to the changes in pressure and low humidity environment inside the plane, you are likely to experience some degree of dehydration when flying, and unfortunately, high sodium foods can also dehydrate you, which makes for a not-so-good combination.
Flying can also cause your body to retain more water due to pressure changes and sitting for too long, and high sodium levels can have this effect as well.
It is better for you to leave very salty foods to avoid excessive discomfort as much as possible.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, etc., are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. They are high in antioxidants and essential vitamins, and they are very high in fiber compared to many other vegetables.
While this is a good thing for your health in general, you may want to skip the side of broccoli when you order your meal at the airport. Cruciferous vegetables are very high in fiber, which can cause bloating and excess gas.
Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence to feel bloated on a flight as drastic changes in altitude have been found to lead to bloating. So eating broccoli, and other high-fiber vegetables, can lead to a more painful situation when you’re in the air.
You go through pressure changes when you’re on a plane, and this can cause your intestines to expand, according to the Cleveland Clinic. You’re more likely to experience bloating and excess gas when this happens.
One food that definitely won’t help with this goal is beans. Beans are not only high in fiber, which can cause bloating, but they also contain raffinosea carbohydrate that your body can have trouble digesting. Save yourself an upset stomach while you’re stuck on your plane by avoiding beans before your flight.
We’ve already talked about how flying can cause bloating and potential discomfort due to pressure changes, so ingesting foods that make you bloated can make the situation even worse.
A common flowering food is garlic, which contains high levels of a type of fiber called fructans. Many people have a mild intolerance to fructans, which can cause your body to respond with bloating, abdominal discomfort, and excessive gas when you eat foods high in this fiber. Although many people have this, it is something that is under-researched and under-recognized, so many people continue to eat these high-fructan foods without knowing the reason behind their discomfort. .
Aside from ruining your own experience, pre-flight garlic can also ruin your row-mate’s experience, because garlic breath is a real thing. Garlic consists of many sulfur compounds that are activated when you chew it and can lead to a strong odor in your mouth, so save yourself and the people next to you some discomfort and avoid eating of garlic before flying.
The reasons why it’s recommended to avoid garlic before flying are the same reasons we also recommend skipping onions.
Both garlic and onion are high in fructans, which again are those fibers that some people have an undiagnosed intolerance to. If you’re scarfing down an onion-heavy dish before getting on the plane, you might end up with extra gas that no one wants on their flight.
In the same way that garlic can give you unpleasant breath, onions can do the same. This vegetable also contains a lot of sulfur compounds, which give your breath a sickeningly strong onion smell.
Pears and apples
Apples and pears are super healthy snacks because of their fiber content, but when it comes to flying, you can choose something else.
Pears and apples are known to potentially cause bloating or discomfort after eating them due to their high levels of fructose which is a naturally occurring sugar. We discussed earlier how people can develop a tolerance to fructans and not know it, and the same can be said for fructose. In many people, fructose can cause stomach pain and bloating.
Someone probably told you to chew gum when you feel your ears starting to ring during a flight, but this trick can also lead to stomach cramps and nausea while on the plane.
When you chew gum, you swallow more air than usual, which can lead to bloating. The Mayo Clinic (via Science Daily) suggests avoiding chewing gum and sucking on hard candies to lower your chances of constipation and stomach upset.
Before you drink a cup or two of pre-flight coffee, you might want to think about some potential side effects you might experience while on the plane.
For starters, any time you drink a lot of fluids before boarding will increase your need to urinate while on the plane. This may be inconvenient for flyers.
Along with the need to pee more, coffee is also known to make it harder for you to poop. This stimulates your colon and causes more contractions, which will send you running to the bathroom afterwards. This is unfortunately inconvenient on the plane, especially if you find yourself in the window seat.
Beyond that, coffee can also lead to anxiety symptoms in people who are more sensitive to caffeine, which can cause anxiety, nervousness, and upset stomach. If you’re a nervous flyer, drinking coffee can only make things worse.
Posting and drinking at the airport bar can be a fun way to pass the time on a long layover, but be aware of the potential issues that can come from consuming alcohol before your flight.
Alcohol has diuretic effects, meaning you may urinate more often and become dehydrated. Since flights can already dehydrate you, adding alcohol to the experience will only make it worse.
Also, since alcohol can make you urinate more, you run the risk of having the annoying inconvenience of having to make multiple trips to the bathroom when you’re on a plane over something you don’t want or your line mates.
There is also a link between alcohol consumption and feelings of anxiety and depression, largely due to the decrease in serotonin that it causes. As with coffee, be careful how much you drink if you’re a nervous or anxious flyer because both drinks can make your symptoms worse.
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