‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to spread holiday cheer than by hopping on a plane to visit your loved ones or by traveling to an exciting new place? While our minds are often preoccupied with thoughts of long security lines, rushing to make it to your gate in 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 consume before boarding can significantly influence your in-flight experience. And sometimes that’s for the worse. We’re talking about dealing with the discomfort of bloating, excess gas, or an urgent need for the restroom at 30,000 feet above ground—not an ideal scenario for holiday travel.
We may not be able to control the turbulence you encounter, but one of the ways we’d like to help your flight go as smoothly as possible is by shedding light on how certain food and drink choices can lead to physical discomfort mid-flight. So, fasten your seatbelts, and join us as we navigate the foods and drinks that science says are ones to skip before your next flight. Then for more helpful holiday tips, check out the 5 Holiday Foods a Cardiologist Avoids.
For starters, greasy foods contain high levels of fat, and high-fat foods take much longer to digest than protein and carbohydrates. If your fries, chicken fingers, and onion rings sit in your stomach for a long time, it will more than likely lead to bloating and a possible upset stomach.
It is already uncomfortable enough to have to sit on a long flight with a bloated and upset stomach, but because high-fat foods sit in the stomach longer, they can lead to heartburn or intense acid reflux in people who are more prone to these symptoms. Now that sounds like a stressful flight.
Maybe you’re scarfing down a beer with some chips and salsa before your flight, or perhaps you grabbed a bag of potato chips to tide you over until you make it to your destination. Even though snacking on something savory can be satisfying before you travel, be careful with how much sodium you take in before you hop on the plane.
Because of changes in pressure and lower humidity environments inside the plane, you are likely to experience some level of dehydration when flying, and unfortunately, high-sodium foods can also dehydrate you, which makes for a not-so-great combination.
Flying can also cause your body to retain more water because of pressure changes and sitting for too long, and high levels of sodium can have this effect too.
You’re better off leaving the super salty foods behind to avoid as much discomfort as possible.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, etc., are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. They’re high in antioxidants and necessary vitamins, and they’re extremely high in fiber compared to many other vegetables.
While this is a great thing for your health overall, you may want to skip out on the side of broccoli when you’re ordering your airport meal. Cruciferous vegetables are so high in fiber, that they can cause bloating and excess gas.
Unfortunately, it’s already a common occurrence to feel bloatedness on a flight because drastic changes in altitude have been found to lead to bloating. So eating broccoli, and other high-fiber vegetables, may lead to even more of a painful situation when you’re in the air.