Monday,  August 8, 2022  11:58 am

The 5 foods to avoid before flying

The 5 foods to avoid before flying
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

Feeling tired after a flight can usually be attributed to lack of sleep the night before, or the inability to drift off at 36,000 feet—especially if you forgot those noise-cancelling headphones.

But, more often than not, it’s your eating habits that can contribute to your overall travel experience, from how much sleep you get leading up to the trip, to a whole other host of flying-related symptoms, like bloating, itching, swelling, headaches, dry skin, and so much more.

Here are five foods to avoid before your flight:

Fast food


As tempting as that cheeseburger and fries combo is, it’s loaded with sodium, which as everyone knows, is extremely dehydrating. Too much salt can also raise your blood pressure, which is never a good sign, especially if you’re an anxious flier. Eating foods high in sodium also have a tendency to cause bloating in your stomach area, and when you’re stuck strapped into a small seat for several hours, this can be extremely uncomfortable.

Airplane cabins are very dry, and the average person loses 1.5 litres of water on flights longer than five hours. If you’ve eaten foods high in salt the night before, you’ll not only be uncomfortable, but you’ll be watching the drink cart like a hawk! Drink plenty of water in the morning and avoid salty foods.



Much like foods packed with sodium, alcohol of any kind is very dehydrating, and depending on how much you consumed the night before, can easily lead to a headache or migraine on board the plane. Sometimes, even just a glass or two can mimic a hangover when you you’re back on the ground.

If you’re a nervous flier and usually have a glass of wine or two mid-flight, ask for a glass of water to go with it. It’s always a good rule of thumb to double your water intake if you’re drinking and flying, given the dehydration process that happens.

Fiber-friendly foods


You might think you’re making a health-conscious choice the night before by eating a bowl of lentil soup, or chowing down on a plate of beans, but as many people know, lentils, and even certain vegetables, fruits, or grains high in fiber have a tendency to cause unwanted digestive issues (like gas). Gas and bloating can be very uncomfortable during the flight, and lead to extreme cramping.

If you’ve eaten foods that you know normally cause these issue, head to the nearest coffee shop and buy a peppermint tea, which naturally reduces bloating and aids digestion quickly--your seatmates will thank you.



Not everybody is a morning person, and when you have to be at the airport for 3:45 AM for that 7:00 AM flight, making a coffee at home, followed by a Venti Flat White or an Iced Vanilla Latte prior to boarding might be the only thing keeping you from falling asleep at the gate. But on board the plane, the caffeine will kick in. Caffeine is a stimulant and drinking it in excess can cause a whole host of problems including the “shakes”, where your body is fidgety and restless, an increased heart rate, dehydration, insomnia, and increased trips to the bathroom, which, on a packed flight, can be an issue.

If you’re flying in the morning, a good trick is to skip the coffee at the gate. Even if it’s a quick flight and you’ve got a meeting to get to, you can buy one when you land, and use the time on board for more shut-eye. Grab a smoothie or fresh juice packed with anti-oxidants instead before you board—it’ll wake you up naturally, and you won’t end up with the caffeine side-effects.

Spicy food


Besides cramping and bloating, one of the most uncomfortable things to experience is heartburn. If you’ve eaten spicy foods the day before a flight, you might experience anything from heartburn, to an increase in body temperature, or even itching. Spicy foods are a known digestive system disrupter, and even if you’re not affected by the intensity of the heat the spice brings during the meal itself, as it makes its way through your body the next day, you could feel discomfort.