Foods to avoid before you take off

Big pile of delicious looking hot chips

Enjoying a comfortable flight can be just as important as the holiday itself, but are many of us letting ourselves down before we even get to the gate?

Understandably, on holiday the normal diet rules don’t apply – or is that just me – and boundaries are tested.

However, there are some foods and drinks you should avoid before you board to ensure a pleasurable – or at the very least tolerable – flight.

And with some budget airlines not even providing foods these days, maybe this even applies to the snacks you bring on the plane.

Here are some foods and drinks you should steer clear of at the airport.

Feeling salty

Let’s face it, airport food offerings are never beacons of health and dietary enrichment. It’s nothing but wall-to-wall, salt-heavy, fat-bearing foods, punctuated only by sugar-heavy, fat-bearing foods.

Chips, burgers and salty snacks may be damned tempting, but they can dehydrate your body and lead to bloating. As cabin pressure falls while flying, gas starts to expand, and eating chips may result in more discomfort with gas.

Digestion is also harder at flying level, so you are just setting yourself up for possible heartburn and a tummy ache. That quarter pounder is not worth it.

Buck that fizz

Carbonated beverages can cause unpleasant feelings such as gas and heartburn during a flight, and that’s got a lot to do with air pressure too. Instead, opt for a glass of water to stay hydrated without the bloating.


Well, this one’s a surprise. Sushi is meant to be healthy right?

While sushi may be tempting, the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against eating it due to the potential risk of food poisoning.

Additionally, soy sauce, commonly served with sushi, is naturally high in salt, so think twice before adding it to your sushi next time.

Bean there, don’t eat that

Beans and some legumes, such as peas and lentils, contain hard-to-digest fibres that can cause gas. Similarly, the high amount of dietary fibre in apples makes them difficult to digest.

I don’t know of too many airport food outlets that serve beans, but maybe I’m just not looking in the right places.

Get off the beers

Consuming alcohol before or during a flight can cause dehydration, headaches, and nausea due to altitude changes. If you can’t resist the temptation, remember to drink enough fluids between each alcoholic beverage to minimise the risk.

However, if someone offers you free champagne, all bets are off.

Cruciferous vegetables

Say what?

Cruciferous vegetables are those leafy ones: bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower; collard greens and my favourite rutabaga.

While broccoli and cabbage are generally good for you, cruciferous vegetables can sit in the large intestine for several hours, making them harder to digest, especially in a pressurised cabin. Opt for lighter greens such spinach, lettuce, or zucchini instead.

If you are being offered a variety of green vegies in an airport dining venue and then get to choose which ones you would prefer, my hat’s off to you. I suspect this scenario doesn’t exist and will never exist.

Kill the buzz

Both caffeine and alcohol, often considered jet lag remedies, should be avoided when flying. Caffeine has a diuretic effect, leaving you dehydrated and potentially anxious. Go for a herbal tea instead.

Do you have a preflight routine? Are there food and drinks you avoid? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Protect your phone, don’t use public USB charge points

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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