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Bloated Mid-Air? Here’s What to Avoid Eating and Drinking Before and During Your Flight

Foods to avoid when flying: man with stomach ache on passenger flight
Dhinesh Manuel
Written by Dhinesh Manuel

Everyone’s got their little pre-flight routine. For some it could be relaxing and squeezing in a small nap before heading to the airport. For some jittery flyers it could be knocking back a few strong whiskies to ease the nerves. While others would look forward to a snack at the airport right before take off (especially if you’re on a budget flight with few food and drink options). Of all our travel habits, the ones where we consume something before our trip could have the most serious consequences once we’re airborne. Also, even if you’ve been careful beforehand on what goes in your belly, you can slip in to some not-so-savvy snacking on the flight that can create some bad problems for your stomach … and even your fellow passengers! If you’re in a quandary about what you should be consuming before and during your flight, look no further;  just follow this simple guide on the foods to avoid when flying (and liquids as well) and you’ll have a comfy, event-less flight … and your tummy will thank you too!

Let go of the legumes

Foods to avoid when flying: Legumes, lentils, chikpea and beans assortment in different bowls on stone table.

Even though your mum always told you to eat your beans (part of the legume family), this may not be the best thing to consume before or during your flight. Other legumes that are to be avoided include lentils, peas, chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts — all healthy stuff, or so you would think, but not so when you’re sitting in a pressurized cabin at 30,000 feet. All legumes contain a sugar called oligosaccharide that the human body finds hard to break down completely; this may result in bloating and discomfort, and you guessed it … more gas! If you can’t avoid them completely, try eating them with a lot of restraint.

Cut loose the cruciferous veggies

 Foods to avoid when flying: cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower,broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale in wooden bowl

You may think we’re full of hot air to suggest avoiding these healthy cruciferous veggies, which include cauliflower, cabbage, kale, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, to name a few. But, there’s a good reason why these foods are all on the National Institutes of Health’s list of foods that cause gas. Cruciferous vegetables are full of fiber and raffinose (a sugar made up of galactose, fructose, and glucose), which can lead to increased gas production in the body. With this being a major side-effect you should think twice about consuming too much of these veggies and then getting into a low-air pressure environment (like an airplane cabin in flight).

Flee from the fast food

 Foods to avoid when flying: Boy and his father eating fast food in the cafe.

Fast food might be a craving you get when you’re at the airport pre-flight, but all that high trans fat and oil can cause some serious digestive problems. Plus, all the salt in fast food can also be a factor in increasing fluid retention, which in turn can cause your feet and hands to swell up when you’re up in the air.

Simmer down the spice

Foods to avoid when flying: girl cooling her tongue with her hand after eating spicy sandwich

Too much of a good thing can turn bad, and this is especially true when it comes to spicy food. While the higher spice level of food can have varying effects for different people, for those who do have gastrointestinal issues it’s a safe bet to avoid these type of foods when traveling. So, if that piping-hot gumbo or that red-sauce-laden enchilada at the airport look like they might set off a stampede in your gut, just say no!

You may also enjoy reading: 9 Ways To Stay Healthy While Traveling

Can the carbonated beverages

Foods to avoid when flying: Cold soda iced drink in a glass

There’s nothing like a nice cold soda to quench you thirst on airline flights, right? Think again. All that sugar and fizz can certainly contribute to deflating your trip with your tummy feeling more expanded than usual. If you need to stay hydrated just go with good ol’ H2O and you’ll be sure to have a more harmonious digestive system.

Be wary of the booze

Foods to avoid when flying: man pouring beer into cup on a flight

A few stiff ones can help calm the nerves before and even during a flight, but the truth is that alcohol can severely dehydrate you in the environment of a passenger flight. The low relative humidity and air pressure of an airplane cabin can seriously affect your dehydration levels, and too much alcohol can only worsen how jet-lagged and tired you feel once you disembark at your destination. If you do feel the need to imbibe, do so conservatively and try to offset each drink with a glass of water.

What other food/drinks have given you problems when flying? Share them with us in the comments.

About the author

Dhinesh Manuel

Dhinesh Manuel

Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by night...no wait...that's Batman...my bad ...

Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!

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