Being mindful of what you put in your body on the way to your destination is just as important as keeping good habits once you arrive.
Travelle doesn’t have to tell you how awful plane food tastes, but you may not be aware how it affects your well-being over time.
To better understand how to eat right while in transit, Travelle spent time with Dana Palumbo, a certified health coach, yoga instructor and co-founder of Crop Tops & Kale. She and her partners were trained at Institute for Integrative Nutrition and share the simple mission of helping women feel good by finding effective ways to create an awesome life through a mix of nutrition, personal development, fitness, fashion and finances. Sounds pretty good to me.
Dana tells Travelle all about why eating airplane food is bad you:
Let's talk plane food
If there is any trace of actual food in airplane food it has been inundated with salt and preservatives to make it last longer. There’s likely negligible nutritional value in any of it. Not to mention, it’s extremely processed. It likely contains harmful ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, processed soy, GMO corn, artificial colorings etc. This stuff is just gross. You’re better off doing a little fast on your flight, especially the shorter, domestic flights or bringing some of your own healthy snacks on board.
What happens in our bodies when we fly?
The biggest issues we face when we fly are restricted oxygen level, dehydration and pressure changes in the cabin. Any gas in our body’s cavities expands which can cause bloating, cramps and discomfort in our digestive tracts. This, coupled with dehydration and restricted oxygen, can leave us feeling uncomfortable and fatigued.
No wonder we end up bloated inflight. What tends to make it worse?
The change in pressure is what causes our bodies to bloat; the gas in our abdomen expands. Foods that typically make this issue worse are gluten, dairy, sugar, excess salt and anything processed.
Let's focus on the good stuff. Are there any specific foods that are best to eat before we board?
Water-rich foods like fruit and cucumbers, carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes would be good to nibble on to defend against dehydration. Before a flight, I would say to eat light to avoid a super-full belly combined with the digestive upset that is likely on the way. Always stick to whole foods in general - vegetables, fruits, organic, naturally raised animal products. I’d avoid gluten, dairy, legumes and whole grains. Stick to foods that are easy to digest and that you regularly eat without an issue. Avoid sugar, processed foods and excess salt.
What would you put in a carry-on or buy on your way to the gate?
Peppermint and ginger tea are great for nausea and upset stomach. Keep a few teabags with you and ask for hot water on the plane. Other ideas to bring with you would be: individual hummus packets and baby carrots, individual nut bar packets and celery, Larabars, homemade chia seed pudding, hard boiled eggs, berries, fruit, almonds, and green powder packets to add to your water. When evaluating which snacks are the least offensive at the airport convenience store on the on-board menu, look for the fewest ingredients, the least amount of sugar and avoid anything with ingredients you cannot pronounce (not easy, I know!).
For those of us scrambling with no time to shop before the trip, how do we keep our bodies plane food safe(r)?
If you have no other choice than to eat the airplane food, I would take a digestive enzyme, sip something warm beforehand (which can aid in digestion), chew it thoroughly, drink lots of water and try to skip the animal products as they are likely of the lowest quality.
How about a little vino?
I would advise skipping the booze but, I’m terrified of flying and wine seems to be the only effective antidote my crippling fear. :) If it’s too early to order a drink without judgment, chamomile tea helps to calm my nerves as well!
Look out for future posts on tested snack types and brands to keep your belly happy and bloat free.