13 Surprising Foods You Should Avoid Eating On Planes, According To Experts
It's pretty hard not to be hungry on a flight. Unless you're flying at 5:00 a.m. and you're exhausted, you're likely going to be bored AF and in need of snacks. Eating is totally fine (and healthy, duh), but there are certain foods you should probably avoid eating on a plane, as they might cause indigestion, gas, stinky breath that can make you feel less than comfortable on a flight. Plus, nobody likes the person who opens a can of tuna on a flight. Nobody.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on staying healthy, fit, and relaxed when traveling, as it's common for people to feel stressed and outside their elements when flying. If you're one who hates sitting still, eating irregular meals, and dealing with time changes/off-set sleep schedules, then it's natural to want to hold onto as many healthy habits as possible. First step: starting with food. Being prepared before a flight can help you make the right decisions after takeoff, so that you'll feel satiated and balanced throughout the flight. Here are 13 foods you should definitely avoid during a flight, as they can lead to some bodily turbulence.
1. Deli Meat Sandwiches From Home
"Tuna, deli sandwiches or other perishable foods," should be avoided explains Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, over email with Bustle." The food safety expert in me is shinning through, but depending on the time you left your house and when you actually eat that sandwich, there’s a good chance you can be risking a potential food borne illness," Shaw adds.
2. Fortified Fiber Foods
"Though I’m definitely in support of increasing your fiber intake, I’d be weary about how you achieve that, especially on a plane," expresses Shaw. "The chicory root fiber often found in bars and other processed foods can cause stomach irritation and bloating, both things we don’t want to be known for on a plane! Stick with the apple slices and trail mix, it’s a much safer option," Shaw recommends.
3. Tuna Sandwich
“No one likes a fishy smell, especially when traveling! I think I speak for everyone when I say, please avoid tuna sandwiches and snacking on sardines while on the plane – even if they are on the flight menu," says Andrew Aussie Chief Marketing Officer of Coromega over email with Bustle. "If you want the benefits of fish without the smell, grab delicious and travel-friendly new Coromega Max squeezes to get a super dose of 2,400 mg of omega-3s anytime no matter where your travels take you," Aussie recommends as an alternative way to secure intake.
While not everyone is sensitive to dairy products, if you are, you should especially avoid them during the flight, advises Liana Werner Gray, author of The Earth Diet and nutritionist/healthy food chef, over email with Bustle. "While you are flying your body is under extra pressurization and circulation isn't the same if you are walking around on ground. When you consume dairy it can clog your system and create mucus and inflammation, which strains your breathing and heart while on a flight," says Gray.
According to Gray, refined and processed goods, such as pastries and cereals, can cause uncomfortable inflammation and water retention during the flight. "Refined white sugar or anything with white sugar in it," should be avoided, says Gray. "White sugar can create extreme retention in the body making for an extremely uncomfortable flight. Carry on natural sweets like dates instead," Gray recommends.
6. Hardboiled Eggs
"Hardboiled eggs because they will smell out the plane and everyone who can't see you eating it will just think you are gassy," says Gray. While eggs are great for protein, they can create smelly gas due to sulfur compounds, and this can definitely create an unpleasant atmosphere mid-flight.
7. French Fries
While it's tempting to make a dash towards the fast food eateries offered at the airport (French fries, wings, burgers, and pizzas abound), it's better to avoid these fatigue-inducing, greasy, high-fat foods, explains Gray, as they can "give you heartburn while flying, since your body is under extra pressurization. It can also lead to extreme bloating, way more than if you were to eat it on ground level."
While it's natural to want to reach for a cup of coffee at the airport (especially if you're flying in the early morning or late at night), it's better to swap it for water or something super hydrating and to save the coffee for after you land, advises Gray. "Coffee will dehydrate you when you are up in the air and can create anxiousness and nausea," Gray explains. Plus, it'll make your trips to the bathroom more frequent.
9. Red Meat
Skipping the double bacon cheeseburger and opting for a salad, lean sandwich, or DIY trail mix, can help keep your belly tame during a flight, advises Gray. "Red meat requires a lot of energy from the body to digest and when you are flying and sitting in a compacted situation your body is under difficulty in digesting heavy meats," Gray says. "If it is not able to digest, it can leave a really bad odor smell emanating from your skin," Gray further cautions.
10. Peanut Butter
While it's a beloved comfort and health food, peanut allergies are incredibly common, and if you bring it on a plane, you might be putting someone at risk, explains Gray. To be safe, if you're a victim to the allergy, bring an epi pen with you on the flight and prepare snacks ahead of time for yourself, advises B.J. Lanser, MD, director of the Pediatric Food Allergy Program at National Jewish Health in Denver over email with Bustle. "If you forget to carry an epinephrine injector, do not eat anything you didn’t bring or food with any unknown ingredients," says Lanser.
11. Cruciferous Vegetables
CEO and co-founder of FOODSTAND app, Rachna Govani and Shauna Keeler, NYC-based Chef and RD, who is also a Foodstand contributor and member, explain over email with Bustle that gassy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous varietals can cause stomach discomfort and bad odors during a flight.
12. Salty Chips
"People should also avoid consuming things that dehydrate you, like high salt foods," explains Govani and Keller. Instead, reach for raw produce, such as an apple, for a bit of crunch, or baked, unsalted chips or crackers to lower inflammation and water retention.
13. Sugar-Free Candies
Taking in artificial sweeteners during a flight can lead to stomach troubles and cravings, explain Govani and Keller, so avoiding sugar and fake sugars can help keep the belly balanced and digestion level. "Sugar-free gum, candy, or anything that contains sugar alcohols can cause digestive stress, gas, and even diarrhea, so keep an eye out for things like xylitol and sorbitol on the ingredient lists," say Govani and Keller.
For a better flight, limit these offenders and save them for after you land. Your stomach and peers will certainly thank you.
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