What not to eat before flying!

It is the holiday season and many of us will be spending hours up in the air, in a cramped cabin and in an even smaller seat.

So how can we make that flight time as painless as possible?

It should start at the airport. As soon as your bags are checked in then head to the café and start hydrating. For many that means alcohol (to calm the nerves!) but that is best avoided. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body that is only made worse once airborne. Fizzy drinks can also play havoc with your digestion by causing bloating, not what you need in a crammed seat and seat belt.

Stick with bottled water, not only is it great for hydration but it has zero calories. Be aware of the flavoured waters some can contain as much as eight teaspoons of sugar.

Many of us have arrived at the airport early and are ravenous so a cooked breakfast is the best choice, right? Possibly not, all that bacon, sausage and processed foods can lead to an increased salt and fat intake which can make you dehydrated and more likely to drink fizzy drinks or alcohol. Salt can also make your feet and hands swell due to fluid retention.

Instead, have a bowl of protein and fibre rich porridge. It will keep you nice and full and balance out your blood sugar levels. Top it with some fresh fruit and berries for extra immune boosting vitamins to fight off any nasty cabin germs.

Once on board try and have smaller meals. Many hours will be spent inactive so your calorie needs are reduced by 5-10%. Larger meals can also lead to bloating and make you feel sleepy and lethargic. Salty snacks are best avoided as are the high fat treats. High consumption of both fat and sugar can slow down blood flow, which might ultimately lead to a DVT. To help combat that possibility, regularly get out of your seat to stretch and walk up and down the aisle.

To stay hydrated drink bottled water and avoid carbonated and alcoholic drinks. Water can also help with tiredness and jetlag. If you are hungry stick to fruit, veggie sticks, unsalted nuts and seeds, steamed fish, white meat, eggs, avocado, edamame beans, yoghurts, black and green teas. Caffeine in energy drinks, coffee and chocolate should be kept to a minimum as it could keep you awake and produce anxiety and jitters.

Eating before and during a flight is no different to eating at any other time. You need to eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full and eat mostly low fat, sugar and salty foods. Keep processed foods to a minimum and fill up on slow releasing energy foods like fruits and veg and good quality protein.

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Written by a listed nutritionist