Gretchen Lidicker is a writer, researcher, and the author of the books CBD Oil Everyday Secrets and Magnesium Everyday Secrets. She has a degree in biology and a masters in physiology with a concentration in complementary and integrative medicine. She's been featured in the New York Times, Marie Claire, Forbes, and Travel & Leisure.
You booked your flight, found a hotel, got a dog sitter, and packed your bags. You’re all ready for your big trip, right?
Not so fast. If you haven’t thought about what you’re going to eat before, after, and during your flight, you still aren’t ready to go. Food is what fuels us, keeps us feeling good, and helps prevent us from getting sick — and there’s no time when it’s more important than when you’re traveling.
Before you hop on that plane, find out how to support your health with these pre- and post-travel trips.
What to eat before a flight: Vitamin C-rich foods
You’re about to go to the airport and get on a plane with hundreds of other humans, and that means you’re about to encounter a lot of germs. If you’re someone who frequently catches the common cold, try filling up on foods high in vitamin C before you check-in for your flight. According to a Cochrane Review of the existing literature, regular supplementation with vitamin C seems to reduce the duration of the common cold.
Luckily, there are a lot of delicious high vitamin-C foods to choose from. Guava is a great choice; just one fruit contains 126 mg of vitamin C, which is 140% of the daily value. Also on the list are red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and oranges.
What to eat during a flight: Fiber & Water
Yes, sitting for hours on end can be boring, stressful, and leave your body stiff and achy. It can also slow down your digestion and leave you constipated. To combat this unwelcome side effect of travel, opt for high-fiber plane snacks. If you often find yourself rushing out of the house to catch a flight, try a piece of whole fruit. Nothing is quicker than that! Pears are a great option for this, as they contain 4 grams of fiber per cup.
If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, try an oatmeal cup. These Purely Elizabeth Superfood Oat Cups are great to keep on hand or throw in your bag on the way out the door and they sell them in a lot of airports, too. They contain high-fiber ingredients like chia, quinoa, flax, and oats. All you need is hot water and a spoon and as an added bonus, they cost only $2.99.
And while you’re thinking about fiber, don’t forget to hydrate too. Keep up your normal healthy habits around drinking water and things shouldn’t change. The one thing you don’t want to do when you’re on the road is drink less.
What to eat after a flight: Sleep-promoting foods
Adjusting to a new time zone, a new bed, even a different room temperature, especially after a stressful day of flying, can often mean trouble getting to sleep at night. So where do you turn? Melatonin-rich foods. Melatonin is known as the sleep hormone because it’s released in the evening to help us wind down and get to sleep.
Examples of some foods sources of melatonin are almonds, salmon, eggs, and yogurt, according to a study published in 2017 on the dietary sources of melatonin. If foods fail to do the jobs, herbs can be your next line of action.
Try a cup of Celestial Seasoning’s Sleepytime Tea, which contains a mix of sleep-promoting herbs such as chamomile, lemongrass, rosebuds, and tilia flowers.