No matter what reason you have for taking a flight, you don’t want to step off it feeling sluggish and bloated. On the other hand, you also don’t want to exit the plane feeling ravenous. That leaves you with a conundrum: what should I eat before a flight?
Some excellent suggestions are listed below. Of course, to some degree it’s up to the individual person. Some people simply prefer French bread to pita bread, or a banana to an orange. Choose accordingly. But every item on the list should leave you feeling full (but not too full) and ready to get on with whatever business (or pleasure) brought you to your destination.
We’ve also thrown in a few suggestions for what to eat after a flight just in case you’re running late and didn’t get a chance to eat before boarding.
What To Eat Before a Flight
Before understanding what you should eat before a flight, it’s important to understand why you might feel a bit out of sorts in the first place. When a plane reaches high altitude, the air pressure in the cabin causes gas to expand. In some cases, it might expand as much as 25%. No wonder you might feel uncomfortable!
But these light meals avoid excess amounts of sugar or proteins that might cause a problem, instead focusing on complex carbohydrates that burn slowly. Keep in mind that small amounts are better than big amounts. In other words, eat less than you think you need.
Fruit and Smoothies
Bananas are a great way to start the day, even those you don’t spend at 35,000 feet. They are loaded with potassium, which means they can help you avoid leg cramps during the flight. An orange is high in vitamin C, helping keep your immune system strong. And a fruit smoothie can accomplish all that and give you a tasty beverage, as well.
Small amounts of natural peanut butter or almond butter will keep you feeling full for a long period of time. They have the advantage of filling you up with a small amount. A small portion of almonds, walnuts or peanuts can do the same, both before and during the flight.
Making a sandwich with bread that you picked up at the bakery, such as French bread or pita bread. A small amount of hummus with pita will leave you full. With warm French bread, you can dip it into a bit of extra virgin olive oil for a tasty, filling meal that is bland and won’t upset your stomach.
This is especially smart during the flight. Water fills you up. It also keeps you better hydrated at high altitudes. Both will leave you feeling better when the plane lands. Avoid caffeine, as it dehydrates and may leave you unable to sleep during the flight.
Considered a grain but actually a seed, quinoa is a wonderful food that goes with almost anything. You can pair quinoa with fruit for a healthy pre-flight meal, or with chicken if your flight is later in the day. It fills you up with plenty of protein, but not enough to leave you feeling bloated. Brown rice can play the same role if that’s what you have on hand.
Don’t get fancy or take chances if you find yourself pressed for time. Simply eat some crackers – low salt crackers if available. What crackers lack in culinary fireworks they make up for by being benign and filling.
What To Eat After a Flight
If you’ve kept hydrated during the flight and ate one of the foods listed above, you should arrive at your destination feeling well. Remember to avoid coffee and alcohol, as they will dehydrate you. Avoid salty snacks as well.
Once you’ve landed, you can regain energy by having some green tea. A banana is also good post-flight, as is a bit of dark chocolate. Both can relax the muscles. Another winner are antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries or grapes. A bit of protein also can elevate your energy (and mood). If you’re on the go, a good nut butter spread on crackers or yogurt and nuts can get the job done. Consider these foods as the answer to “what should I eat before a flight?” Hopefully, some of these foods sound good to you and will keep you feeling well and full (but not too full) before, during and after your flight.