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It can be tricky to know which, if any, foods to bring on a flight.
When you’re hungry at altitudes upwards of 30,000 feet, eating small bags of lightly salted peanuts is not an ideal situation for anyone.
We spoke with certified nutritionist Serena Poon and registered dietitian Kylie Sakaida to get some flight-friendly food recommendations, along with tips on which food groups to avoid altogether when traveling.
Drink plenty of water.
Airplane air is dry and the lack of humidity can cause unnecessary discomfort.
Poon recommends drinking more water than usual leading up to your departure and being intentional with water intake during your flight.
“Bring a large, empty water bottle through security to fill before you get on the plane and sip water throughout your journey,” she said.
You can stay ahead of nausea by packing ginger tea.
Motion sickness during a flight is a common source of discomfort while traveling. Ginger tea can help with feelings of nausea and indigestion caused by the movement of the aircraft. Poon recommends preparing your tea on the go.
“Simply stash some ginger tea in your carry-on and ask the flight attendant for a cup of hot water during beverage service,” she said.
Chopped vegetables make a great plane snack.
Hydrating vegetables such as celery, cucumbers, and red peppers are great, mess-free snacks that you can nibble on while traveling.
“They are also full of fiber and fun to snack on,” said Poon. “These nutrient-rich snacks supply a satisfying crunch and will keep you feeling full for longer.”
Seed or whole-grain crackers pack a lot of nutrients.
Compact snacks such as crackers are easy to bring with you on a flight. Poon recommends grabbing some that are made from whole grains or seeds.
“Crackers that are made from whole grains or seeds are usually the most nutrient-dense options,” she said.
When compared with refined grains, whole grains are better sources of fiber, protein, and other nutrients, including iron, folate, selenium, B vitamins, and magnesium .
Additionally, they go easy on sensitive stomachs. “Wholesome crackers are also easy on your digestive system, making them a great option if your stomach is feeling off, ” she added.
Nuts and seeds will keep you feeling full without the bloat.
Nuts are high in protein and antioxidants. For a bit of variety, Poon suggests mixing some of your favorite nuts and seeds to bring with you on the plane.
“I love making an easy trail mix whenever I travel,” Poon said. “Usually, it’s a combination of raw, unsalted organic nuts like almonds or cashews and some dried, unsweetened, organic berries.”
Dietitian Kylie Sakaida recommends using foods packed with protein as fuel throughout your travels.
“I always recommend having snacks with an adequate amount of carbs and protein to keep you energized and satiated throughout your flight,” she said.
Homemade sandwiches are a great alternative to overpriced, oversalted airport clubs.
Most airport sandwiches come with various pre-selected condiments and cheeses, leaving little room for any dietary adjustments individuals may need to make. The sandwiches are usually overpriced as well. Instead of over-spending for something you don’t really want, Poon recommends making your own low-sodium, protein-filled sandwich at home.
“When you make food at home, you know exactly what’s entering your body and you have the most control over your nourishment,” she said.
Steer clear of oily foods when traveling.
Avoid oily snacks. Getty Images Chips are an easy snack to grab when rushing through an airport but the convenience comes at a cost. Greasy foods can put a strain on your digestive system and exacerbate feelings of nausea, according to Poon.
“These types of food can slow your digestion and make the symptoms of motion sickness worse,” she said.
Save the spicy food for later.
Spicy foods, in general, can upset your stomach and the motion of the plane may intensify any icky feelings. Although they can be very tasty when added to your favorite dish, they don’t make for the best travel-friendly food.
To minimize discomfort, stick to less temperamental snacks until you reach your destination.
Alcohol isn’t a wise choice if you suffer from airsickness.
While you can’t bring your own liquor through most security checkpoints anyway, the in-flight selections should be avoided if you are prone to travel sickness or nausea.
“Spicy foods, alcohol, and highly acidic foods might place more strain on your digestive system than is comfortable while spending a few hours in an airplane seat,” Poon said.
The shelf life of hummus makes it a risky plane snack.
Foods that spoil quickly should not be brought on the plane, no matter how yummy. Since wait times in airports can be fickle, it’s best to avoid bringing foods, like hummus, that require refrigeration.
“Unless you’re eating them within two hours, I wouldn’t recommend bringing any snacks that would spoil quickly or require refrigeration, ” Sakaida said.
Unless you know your journey will be fairly short, Sakaida said it is better to be safe than sorry.
“You wouldn’t want to risk getting sick from improperly stored food on a flight or trip, ” she said.