How to avoid jetlag & flying slugginess when flying
by: Veronika Larisova
The first thing I noticed is that airplane meals are usually very high in sodium, and sugar. As well as saturated fats (and trans fats!) and preservatives. AND they’re also low in vitamins, minerals and fiber. So why the crap food? Well, after doing a bit more digging I found that:
– The change in the air pressure and the low humidity inside the cabin. Numbs about one third of our taste buds making ‘normal’ food tasteless. Increased salt, sugar and spice content make the airline meals more palatable.
– Airplane meals need to be precooked and frozen to comply with health and safety standards. Unfortunately, the freezing process tends to degrade the taste of food (again). And so the meals are loaded up with even more extra salt and fat to compensate.
– Preservatives and hydrogenated vegetable oils (high in trans fats) are necessary to stabilise and store the food.
– As a result of all above, airplane food is high in calories and low in nutrients, which is exactly the opposite of what you want from your food.
WHAT DOES THIS TYPE OF FOOD DO TO YOUR BODY?
Highly processed foods, soft drinks and alcohol all cause inflammation in your gut. If your gut is inflamed, you start feeling bloated, lethargic and your immune system is affected too, making you prone to catching any bugs flying around the cabin. We also know that lack of fiber in our diet causes constipation, especially when dehydrated at the same time. The lack of essential nutrients (vitamins and minerals) affects not only our physical health, leaving us lethargic, weak and prone to illness. It can also influence our mood by increasing anxiety, irritability and anger. And do I really have to mention that refined sugar is a cell-damaging poison and the more of it you eat, the more you crave it?
However, to be fair, we can’t just blame just the food. Other factors contributing to gastrointestinal issues and jet lag include lack of movement, inadequate hydration and the change in your ‘body clock’ due to different time zones. How can you expect feeling great when you just had all that highly processed food, washed down with a glass of cheap wine or sugary juice while sitting in the most awkward position for hours doing no exercise and watching movies?
SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
Try these tips to avoid jetlag & flying slugginess this holiday season:
- – Have a nice healthy meal before heading to the airport or take it with you and eat while waiting to board the plane. You can get healthy food at some big airports these days but I wouldn’t rely on it
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!! Drink plenty of water the day before flying, to avoid jetlag on the way to the airport and at the airport.
- Pack your own food to take on board; you are allowed to do so (Yes that means Chief bars too ;)) However, I don’t like carrying plastic boxes and getting my bag all messy, which is why I usually ‘non-messy’ fruits and veggies such as apples, mandarins, carrots and celery sticks.
- Pack an empty bottle to your carry on luggage. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get water on the plane? Refill your bottle in the airport bathroom if you’re in a country with drinkable tap water.
- Never ever, eat snacks offered to you on the plane. They are evil number one, packed with sugar and salt!
- Avoid coffee, tea and alcohol as they dehydrate you. A number one no no of jetlag. Also avoid carbonated drinks and chewing gum, they will just make you bloated.
- Move around often! Stretch in your seat and walk to the bathroom where you can stretch more. Just don’t get your foot stuck inside the toilet bowl.
- Take a release ball or mini roller with you and roll your back, glutes and hamstrings while sitting.
- The day before a flight involving a time difference greater than six hours, eat your meals and go to bed 3 hours ahead of your usual schedule, this will help your body to adjust to the new time zone quicker thus minimizing jetlag and its symptoms.
- Don’t eat jut because you are bored or anxious (or because it’s for free). Fill your time with activities such as watching movies, reading books, writing, chatting to whomever you travel with or just sleeping. If you have serious anxiety issues that trigger emotional eating, download guided meditation on your phone before the flight and listen to it before the anxiety kicks in.