I’m an end justifies the means flyer. Unlike my travel companions who relish in the rarified air of the wild blue yonder, I view flying as a necessity more than a pleasure. A way to get from point A to point B. So I'm always on the lookout for ways and means to make the flight easier on me and I found out it starts before you ever set foot in the airport. A proactive approach to jet lag, stress, diurnal imbalance and general traveler discombobulation begins before you buckle your seat belt.
What to Eat Before a Flight
Studies show that pre-flight eating patterns will increase comfort, make it easier to sleep on the plane and reduce jet lag. Dr. Charles F. Ehret, a biologist at the University of Chicago’s Argonne National Laboratory, advises eating a series of planned foods (proteins and carbohydrates) to re-set nature’s internal clock to help your body adjust to a new time zone.
All experts agree that staying hydrated before and during the flight means feeling better upon arrival. Dehydration effects your digestive system and reduces your defenses when it comes to germs. Magnesium-rich foods like kale, spinach, avocado, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds can help you sleep and relieve muscle tension. Dark Chocolate can aid in jet lag because it’s a magnesium-rich food with a little caffeine.
Eating turkey can help you get a great night’s sleep right before you depart or leave you tired enough to rest on the plane. Think about how content, relaxed and sleepy you feel after that big Thanksgiving dinner. There’s a reason for this. Turkey is high in the amino acid L-tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep aid. I always eat turkey the night before I leave and take a couple of turkey sandwiches to eat while waiting in the airport.
What to Eat On the Plane - Carry on Food
Sliced vegetables, dried fruit, energy or protein bars, unsalted nuts are good alternatives to airplane snacks. Carrying on herbal teas like fennel and peppermint aid in digestion; ginger can ease nausea and motion sickness and reduce inflammation, chamomile can help you relax; others can reduce fluid and boost healthy digestion.
Choosing light in-flight meal options such as fish, vegetables and salads will help limit the amount of extra salt, typically found in plane food, and control the overall amount of food you eat. If you're having a glass of wine on the plane pair it with at least one glass of water to avoid the negative effects of alcohol and altitude. And remember don’t just eat to eat. Just because the flight staff is serving food doesn’t mean you need to eat it if you're not hungry.
Limiting the following foods on a plane can minimize in-flight discomfort, fluid retention and jet lag.
ice cream, salty chips, salted nuts, rice, pasta, noodles, bread, butter, or creamy sauces
baked beans, chickpeas, broccoli, cabbage, lentils, onions for obvious reasons.
carbonated drinks and chewing gum
fatty and fried foods
To paraphrase the Hippocrates method of overcoming jet lag – “Let food be thy flight medicine and flight medicine be thy food”.