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.
- Whole fruits (like apples that won’t get squished)
- Fruit compotes
- Vegetables and hummus
- Seeds and nuts
- Dried fruits
- Single-serve protein powders (to mix with bottled water)
- Energy balls
- Ginger (in the form of chews or dried and take to soothe queasiness)
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
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?
- Powder soups (just ask for hot water in a cup)
- Warm milk (order at the airport and keep in a thermos)
- Pea snacks
- Cricket protein (high in magnesium!)
- Coffee-alternatives like Inka and dandelion coffee
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!