In-flight health: Six foods to avoid while flying

Pre-flight anxiety — spurred by endless baggage lines, security checkpoints and screaming children — need not extend to fears of repeat trips to the airplane lavatory. But eat the wrong thing before you fly, and you may be contending with more than just an awful in-flight movie or space-invading neighbour


Unfortunately, airport dining options – like a greasy fast food burger, oily pizza or a liquid lunch at the concourse bar – are rather limited. Still, if you’re disciplined, avoiding the gut-busting trifecta of grease, alcohol and carbonation can help contribute to a bloat-free flight.

There are even a few surprisingly nutritious foods on our “don’t eat” list that are best avoided before you take to the sky. And for the long-haulers wondering if there’s anything to do to prevent jet lag as they zoom from New York to Beijing, there may just be a food-based remedy: Eat nothing at all.

Avoid foods which can cause gas

For obvious reasons, it’s smart to avoid foods that encourage intestinal expansion, as the nature of the pressurized airplane cabin promotes further bloating.

Primary among such foods are fried and super-saturated dishes, but even certain ‘healthful’ foods – onions, cauliflower, cabbage, beans, lentils – can make you feel like an over-filled balloon. The aforementioned high-sodium foods can cause you to retain water, further contributing to that bloated feeling.

Avoid the carbs

One of the biggest reasons we feel tired and sluggish after a flight is that the lack of physical movement means that the digestive systems are not processing food through the intestinal tract as quickly as it usually would.

For this reason, energy rich carbs including bread, rice, pasta and noodles are best avoided, especially on long flights.

Reducing your carbohydrate intake will help to reduce fluid retention in the body, and also help to reduce the total amount of food in your digestive tract, in turn helping to reduce bloating.

Salty snacks

Our tastebuds get numb at high altitudes, so it’s no surprise that heavily seasoned, salty food becomes far more appealing mid-flight. However, salty snacks only encourage one thing – water retention and jet bloat. Maybe hold off on that bag of chips!


Coffee or tea? The answer is neither. Caffeine is dehydrating and it messes with your sleep cycle. You’re looking at multiple trips to the toilet and feeling sluggish on arrival – no one wins! Save your coffee fix for later – a fresh brew tastes far better on land.

The less alcohol, the better it is for your body

You are not going to like this tip but the fewer the alcoholic drinks you consume on board a plane, the better it will be for your body.

Reduced pressure as experienced when flying places more pressure on the body’s systems, and not only will alcohol have more of an effect when flying but it is another factor that will dehydrate your cells.

Dehydration is one the most common reasons our gut and body feels poorly after a long flight.

So if you must have a drink, make sure you couple every glass with at least an extra glass of water.

Carbonated beverages

Sweetened fizzy drinks are a recipe for digestive disaster when on a plane. We’re talking fizzy giant in your gastro-intestinal tract and a bloated stomach. Not the most comfortable feeling in the world.