Flying’s pretty cool, isn’t it? But there’s no denying that it’s a little bit unnatural – which is why our bodies tend to react badly to spending hours on a plane. The changing pressure and dry air can leave us feeling sluggish and bloated, particularly on a long-haul flight. But we have a few simple tricks to help your body stay healthy while you’re in the air.

In a nutshell, there are certain foods you should and shouldn’t eat before flying. There’s nothing crazy on the list – you don’t have to eat raw liver or drink water standing on your head – but a few of them might surprise you. Normal rules don’t apply on planes, so some foods that we’re encouraged to eat day-to-day can actually make flying very uncomfortable. To avoid any mishaps, here’s what you should eat and what you should avoid before you fly.

Foods you should eat before flying

Vitamin C-rich foods

When you put lots of people in a relatively small space – like a plane – it’s like throwing a germ party. Keep your immune system healthy by getting plenty of vitamin C before you fly. Oranges, berries and peppers are particularly good – why not take some from home to snack on in the airport?

Natural yoghurt

Funnily enough, our bodies weren’t designed to digest food at 35,000 feet. Having some natural yoghurt before your flight can really help – it’s full of probiotics, which aid digestion.

oranges
chicken wrap eat before flying

Lean proteins

In simple terms, ‘lean proteins’ means a healthy type of protein, that hasn’t been fried or covered in breadcrumbs – so southern fried chicken is a no-no. Lean proteins are easy to digest, but give you plenty of energy and fill you up. Something light and nutritious – like a tuna salad or a chicken wrap – is the best thing to eat before flying. Find out which UK airports have the best food, including healthy dishes and vegetarian options.

Water

It’s no secret that flying is very dehydrating, so it’s important to keep yourself topped up. Try to drink at least half a bottle of water every hour, both before your flight and during the journey.

Herbal teas

As well as drinking plenty of water, it’s a good idea to have a cup of herbal tea in the airport. Herbal teas are decaffeinated, natural and hydrating. Some also have added benefits – peppermint soothes your stomach, while ginger tea helps with motion sickness. Or, if you’re a nervous flier, order a chamomile tea to calm your pre-flight jitters.

herbal tea before flying

Foods you shouldn’t eat before flying

Fatty foods

If you’d set your sights on a Full English in the airport, think again. Fatty foods – especially deep-fried treats – are much harder for the body to break down, causing indigestion and heartburn. Nobody needs that on a long-haul flight.

High-fibre foods

Beans, broccoli, chickpeas, wholegrain cereals – you name it, don’t eat it. While high-fibre foods are normally very good for you, they can make you feel bloated on a flight. As cabin pressure drops, any gas in your intestines expands – just like the way your water bottle does. Fizzy drinks have a similar effect too.

Full English at airport
drinks before flying

Coffee

Ah, the liquid lifeline. We know it’s hard – especially if you have a red-eye flight – but it’s really worth trying to skip your usual cup of coffee. Caffeine can leave you feeling tense or anxious, and it’s very dehydrating – not a good combination.

Alcohol

We’re such party poopers, aren’t we? Seriously though – drinking alcohol before flying really dehydrates your body, which is why you sometimes feel unwell after a long flight. If you must have a pre-holiday tipple, try to stick to just one drink at the airport bar, and then drink plenty of water before and during your flight.

Having a comfortable flight isn’t just down to what you eat. Find out what’s best to wear on a long-haul flight and how to avoid jet lag.

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