February 24, 2024

IN the run-up to the summer holidays, you may have eaten right, ditched unhealthy food, racked up a lot of sleep, and maybe even decided to move a little more.

After all, we all want to feel our best when we’re swinging our bathing suits around the pool.

Feeling uncomfortable and bloated on a flight is no fun, but some dietary tweaks can helpCredit: Getty

So, it can be extremely frustrating when taking off, only to find yourself bloated, uncomfortable, and gassy as you step off the plane in sunnier climes.

But why can flights so often leave our bellies in such anguish?

And without starving, what should we eat and what should we avoid in the air? These experts reveal everything

Why do we get so puffy when we fly

Dr Laura Brown, senior lecturer in nutrition, food and health sciences at Teesside University, says post-flight bloating is a common side effect of travel as your body does everything it can to equalize blood pressure. air inside your body caused by pressure changes inside the cabin.

Alex Glover, senior nutritionist at Holland & Barrett, likens it to when your ears pop on an airplane: A similar thing is happening in our digestive system.

Dr. Brown says: In addition to these changes in atmospheric pressure, some foods we eat on airplanes can exacerbate the effects on further gas being produced inside our bodies.

Typically, the foods eaten on planes have been frozen or processed.

These contain a variety of ingredients including additives and acidic substances which can lead to poor digestion, subsequently increasing bloating and gas.

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Alex adds: Food on flights is often ultra-processed and low in nutritional value.

These tend to be less high in fiber, higher in sugar, salt and preservatives which can cause digestive upset in some.

Eat differently than you would at home

Dr. Brown says we should generally increase our fiber content and consume healthy, balanced, mostly plant-based ingredients daily to maintain gut and overall health.

However, to minimize swelling and discomfort, try to implement the recommendations below for 24 hours before your flight and during your flight as well.

Alex says the most important thing when flying is to increase your water intake—humidity on an airplane is significantly lower, which can lead to faster rates of dehydration.

Dehydration is a key trigger for constipation, which can further exacerbate bloating.

Foods to avoid in flight

Dr. Brown explains that high-FODMAP foods could cause problems on board, so you might want to consider avoiding them: High-FODMAP foods basically mean sugars that are hard for your small intestine to absorb.

She says that while many of these foods are typically healthy, they should be avoided 24 hours before and during a flight to reduce the intestinal gas load available for expansion.

These include beans and chickpeas, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cashews, onions, garlic, high-fiber granola bars, high-lactose dairy products, and products that contain inulin fiber or sugar alcohols such as mannitol. Check the label, especially for the latter two.

If air ballooning is a problem, try to avoid wheat and rye, onions and legumes (such as peanuts and chickpeas), lactose (found in soft cheese, yogurt and milk), fructose (found in high fructose corn syrup, honey and some fruits such as apples and pears) and artificial sweeteners.

Dr. Brown says it’s best to keep your fiber intake low as it can create digestive upset.

Also, miss out on asparagus, broccoli, and kale too.

Sugarless gum could also cause problems: Sugarless gum typically contains sorbitol, a sugar alcohol known to cause bloating and other gastrointestinal distress.

This also extends to other artificially sweetened foods and drinks.

Therefore, check labels for artificial ingredients and try to minimize the consumption of these products.

Foods you SHOULD eat on board

It might seem like there’s a pretty limited range of foods to eat once you’ve been letting go of gassy, ​​bloated foods.

However, there’s still plenty of delicious food to savor on board.

Dr. Brown says to keep symptoms to a minimum, try to enjoy a low-FODMAP diet: Examples of low-FODMAP foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, lactose-free dairy products, hard cheeses, mozzarella , nuts and seeds, grain-free cereals and flours such as oats and quinoa, some fruits such as unripe bananas, berries, oranges, kiwis, papayas and melons, and vegetables including kale, cucumbers and sweet potatoes.

Nutritionist Sophie Trotman says it’s best to opt for light, nutritionally balanced meals containing lean protein, healthy fats and fiber that are gentle on your digestive system: If there are healthy options at the airport, try eating before your flight or bring that. healthy food during the flight if it is long.

Think about your snacks

If you have the time, Sophie recommends packing sliced ​​veggies like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers and pairing them with prepackaged hummus—alternatively, pair whole-grain crackers with prepackaged cheese for a nutritious and satisfying snack.

Upon landing, Dr. Brown recommends consuming a healthy diet of high-fiber foods — this helps you return to a normal gastrointestinal routine that releases any excess gas you may have built up during the flight.

Stay hydrated on board

Drinking lots of water during your flight is important for overall health and circulation, and can directly improve your digestive system, says Dr. Brown.

Drinking enough water to use the bathroom regularly encourages movement and helps your body naturally filter out the extra sodium it may be holding when it bloats after your flight.

He says we lose about eight ounces of water per hour of flight, so he recommends consuming about 0.25 liters of water per hour of flight.

Manage your alcohol intake

It can be tempting to let go during the flight, but Dr Brown says the air inside the plane is very dry and this, coupled with the fact that alcohol is a diuretic, speeds up the rate at which you let go. can dehydrate.

Therefore, it is recommended that you avoid alcohol altogether during a flight or at least make sure you consume water with every alcoholic drink.

Alex adds: Alcohol can cause stomach irritation which can lead to diarrhea, as well as affect our blood sugar levels and make us crave sugary, starchy, fatty or salty foods after drinking.

If you drink, try to avoid carbonated alcohol such as prosecco, champagne, and sodas, as they can further bloat you.

Resolve post-flight constipation

Struggling to go? It’s annoying when your digestive system isn’t playing ball and you end up feeling heavy and groggy.

Sophie says post-flight constipation is very common – it’s caused by changes to diet, routine and activity level while traveling.

Also, a change in environment can be a little disorienting and almost a little stressful, which can disrupt regular bowel movements.

Help things move comfortably by staying hydrated, and eat fibrous, natural foods at the holiday buffet, like dates, bananas, and oats.

Also move more and take your time in the bathroom. You may have to wait a little longer, and that’s okay, adds Sophie.

Remember that some degree of swelling after air travel is normal and should usually resolve within a couple of days.

If you’re experiencing persistent bloating or other digestive issues, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.

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