What not to eat before a flight

The thought of airplane food may make you cringe, so the notion of eating before a flight can often be appealing. Airport food courts mostly offer greasy junk food fare which is often better to avoid. Eating the wrong foods before embarking on a flight could give you more to deal with than a screaming baby or the smelly feet of the shoeless passenger next to you. The next time you’re taking off on a trip, it may be wise to steer clear of these types of foods.

Big chain fast food (ie: McDonald’s)

Greasy fast foods contains high levels of sodium and saturated fats, which may not digest well at 37,000 feet. Apart from digestion problems, sitting immobile in a pressurised cabin hinders blood flow, which can lead to swollen feet or even deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Whilst there is no direct link between fast food and DVT, it’s probably a combination best avoided.

Gassy foods

It’s also best to avoid foods which encourage bloating. Fried foods are the obvious culprits, but some healthy foods like onions, cauliflower, cabbage and baked beans also can make you feel like you might pop once you’re flying high in a pressurised cabin.


Many experienced flyers will swear that having a drink or two in the airport lounge calms their nerves before a flight. They may even say that alcohol helps them to sleep on the plane. Everyone is different. Associate Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, Eric Rimm, has said: “Since there’s less water in your blood when you’re dehydrated, the concentration of alcohol will be slightly higher, leading to quicker intoxication and increased potential for a hangover.” If you want to knock back a few drinks on the plane, make sure you drink plenty of water as well.

Carbonated drinks

Carbonated beverages can contribute to bloating and cramping, which in turn can impede digestion. They can also cause wind and may have a diuretic effect.


A study published in the Journal of Science suggests that fasting for about 16 hours before a long flight could actually help to fend off jet lag. This study has only been conducted on lab rats and there has been no actual link found in humans, but if you suffer from bad jet lag it may be worth considering fasting before your flight.

It’s hard to know what is good to eat before or even during a flight, however, it seems best to avoid the trifecta of grease, alcohol and carbonation. The most important thing is to make sure you drink plenty of water to aid digestion and fight in-flight dehydration.

You can read more about this on IndependentTraveler.com

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.