Airlines no longer serve free food on short and medium-length flights, so travellers need to think ahead to not go hungry. Your options are: make due with the plane cookies and chips, purchase from the in-flight selection, opt for a no-food trip (fasting), grab a meal or snack at the airport, or pack your own snacks. I’ve done all of these or a combination of them and here’s what I’ve learned about travel and nutrition.  

Snacks to Avoid Plane Bloat

If you sometimes have tummy trouble when travelling, play it safe and eat less than usual. Rather than eat a large meal with dairy and meat products, be kind to your gut and choose whole foods or easy-to-digest products. Stay hydrated by avoiding coffee and alcohol, which increase dehydration.

Lots of travellers adopt intermittent fasting (I.F.) when in transit to avoid bad airport food and its effects…but beware of crankiness!

Snacks to Avoid Hanger

If your stomach is pretty solid but when ignored, can turn you into a monster, please eat! Hangry is when your hunger makes you nagry and you can definitely fix that. Choose snacks that keep you satisfied longer, like protein-rich dairy, meat, legumes, and quinoa. Breakfast foods like oatmeal, yoghurt, and nuts are great too. By all means, indulge your cravings like chocolate and caffeine if that helps regulate your mood and keep you chill and happy while travelling.

Low-calorie snacks like popcorn can help keep you occupied on a flight without overeating. Beware of too much salt intake, since cabin conditions tend to make everything taste more bland than usual and it can be tempting to overcompensate. Don’t be afraid to overpack snacks — you can always share.


Snacks that Promote Rest on a Plane

If you like to take advantage of your time trapped in an aircraft to nap, then the snacks you pack should match your intention. Avoid caffeine and opt for warm milky herbal teas instead. Choose magnesium-rich foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Banana and complex carbohydrates (not cake) can also help you feel just the right amount of full to put you to sleep. I find small amounts of alcohol can help me dose off, but I’ve been warned it doesn’t make for the best quality sleep. But heck, how good can plane naps really be?

Expecting some jetlag when you land? Use your snacks to help overcome it more quickly. Keep eating according to your regular schedule, even on the plane, and then when you land, hop on the new schedule at your destination to trick your body into adapting to the local routine.

Tips for Packing Your Snacks

While single-serve packaging is convenient, I am trying as much as possible to get my snacks in bulk and to use reusable food storage and utensils.

  • Buy dried fruits, seeds, and nuts in bulk and use reusable baggies to store.
  • Save money by buying whole fruits and veggies and slicing them yourself.
  • You can’t bring a knife on board but you can bring sporks.
  • Bring an empty water bottle through security and then fill with water.
  • Recycle as much as possible. Cans are easier to recycle than glass.
  • Bake your own granola bars and store in wax food wrap.

Also, remember that many of these snacks count as liquids, so make sure you stay under the TSA’s 3.4 oz. limit. See the full list of TSA food guidelines on their site. Lastly, don’t forget to sanitize your hands and tray table because planes are gross.

Happy Travels and Bon Appétit!