Do long-haul flights leave you bloated and sluggish? Follow our top tips on how to eat healthily on the move, so you arrive at your destination feeling fab:
Before you leave the house
A little planning can go a long way when it comes to eating healthily on the go.
Prepare snacks: Packing healthy bites to take on the plane will help you sidestep junk food at the airport. Chop up some red peppers, carrots, cucumber and sugar snap peas and put into a ziplock bag. Fresh and dried fruit, crackers, energy bars, unsalted nuts, and filled wraps are all easily-transportable healthy options.
Bring an empty water bottle: You can fill this up at the water fountain as soon as you’re through security, and hydrate before you fly. Once on the plane, the flight attendants will be happy to fill your bottle for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for refills, as they should have plenty of water on board.
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Pack herbal tea bags: Stash some herbal tea in your hand luggage. Fennel and peppermint are good for digestion; ginger can ease nausea and motion sickness; and chamomile will help you relax. Ask the flight attendant for a cup of hot water on board the plane. Just be aware that some countries (e.g. Australia) have strict import regulations, so you may not be able to bring unused tea bags through airport customs.
At the airport
Avoid fatty foods: If you decide to have a pre-flight meal at the airport, opt for a light meal with plenty of veg, salad, and lean protein. Pret a Manger, Leon and Itsu all provide healthy options, but if choice is limited, even the fast-food chains are now starting to sell healthier food. Avoid deep-fried fatty foods which are heavy on the digestive system, and can cause heartburn and indigestion, resulting in an uncomfortable flight.
Steer clear of gassy foods: Baked beans, chickpeas, broccoli, cabbage, lentils and onions could all leave you feeling windy. In the air, as cabin pressure drops, any gas in your intestines expands, and this can make you feel very bloated. Think of how a water bottle expands in the plane, and explodes a little when you open it mid-flight – the same thing is happening in your gut! Carbonated drinks and chewing gum can have a similar effect, so give these a miss too.
Relax: Get to the airport with plenty of time so that you can eat in a relaxed environment. Rushing and inhaling even the most nutritious meal is likely to make you feel uncomfortable and bloated. If you are running late and dashing through departures, buy a wrap or a salad to eat leisurely on the plane.
Avoid the bar: You might want to calm your pre-flight nerves by heading straight for the airport bar, but alcohol is extremely dehydrating. Drinking prior to a flight, combined with the low cabin humidity, lowers your resistance to cold and flu germs, making you more susceptible to sickness. Stick to just one alcoholic drink, if possible, and then glug down plenty of water to ensure you are well hydrated before you get on the plane.
On the flight
Stay hydrated: Avoid alcohol and caffeine to avoid dehydration on board, and keep fluid intake up. For every hour you are flying, drink at least 250ml of water. Cabin pressure and dry, recirculated air can zap moisture from your skin, but drinking plenty of water will help to keep your skin naturally hydrated. Don’t worry about having to get up to go to the toilet – it’s actually important on a long-haul flight to move regularly to avoid the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Go veggie: If you decide to opt for the plane food, choose the vegetarian meal option (with most airlines you will need to order it in advance), as this is often lighter and more nutritious then traditional plane food. Avoid snacking on sugary foods as these will wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling tired, agitated and hungry. Have a happy holiday!
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This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK