Most people don’t know that a long haul flight is harder on the body than it is usually given credit for. The extreme conditions in the airplane cabin are equivalent to staying in an environment that is three times as dry as the Sahara Desert, combined with a pressure similar to that at the level of Machu Picchu.
These conditions can often make anyone feel fatigued and drained. Combine this with sitting still, poor sleep, and a horrible meal, and you have a guaranteed way to exacerbate the effects of jet lag and feel “hungover” when you reach your destination.
But what if you could change that…?
This probably won’t come as a shock to most people, but changing your diet can affect your wellbeing in many ways, and it is no different when travelling. Eating the correct foods at the right times is a key factor in eliminating the side effects of jet lag.
Nutrition scientist and sports physiologist Dr. Stacy Sims and chef Hannah Grant give you some insight on the best tips and tricks of eating when travelling.
What to Eat for Your Long Haul Flight
Leading up to the date of your long haul flight, you can easily make a few changes to your regular diet to prepare yourself. Starting two days prior to departure, your meal plan should look like this:
Breakfast: High protein meal such as eggs and greek yogurt with seeds and nuts.
Lunch: High protein meal such as chicken breast and salad with avocado and nuts.
Dinner: High carbohydrate + low protein like a classic risotto with vegetables, or a stir-fry with no meat.
Eat light meals of salads, thin soups/smoothies, fruits, juices, veggies; keeping fat and calories at a minimum (kind of like a moderate fast).
Day of departure
It’s finally the day of your flight, and getting to the airport and grabbing a coffee might sound like a good idea, but before you order your double shot latte, there are a few things you need to consider first.
What time is at your destination at your arrival? How long is your flight?
The answers to these questions will determine your diet and sleeping patterns during the flight.
Arrival time - Night or Day
If you are landing at your destination at night, then sleeping on the plane isn’t a great idea. Try to stay awake, as this will help you adjust to the destination timezone more easily. On the day of travel, only consume caffeinated beverages between the hours of 6-11 in the morning.
If you arrive in the morning or early daytime, sleeping on the plane is a good idea. Since your flight will most likely take place during the night, getting some rest on the plane will allow you to be awake and energized when you land. It is also a good idea to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks prior to departure, as they can make it difficult to sleep on the plane.
Snacks to bring on board
It’s a good idea to bring some healthy snacks onboard, just in case the in-flight meal isn’t your cup of tea. It may be difficult to bring some of these in your carry-on, so consider eating those before going through security.
Here is a list of Hannah and Stacy’s top 5 favorite foods:
- Roasted nuts or trail mix
- Banana – nature’s own perfectly wrapped snack bar
- Natural protein powder
- Boiled eggs (fills you up without affecting your blood sugar)
- Roasted veggies and rice (don’t settle for dry sandwiches, have a good meal)
Skip the candy, cakes, and soft drinks, as a high sugar diet is not beneficial in a sedentary situation like the one on-board a long haul flight.
Sitting still for an extended amount of time almost never does anyone any good. Get up every 90-120 minutes (if you’re not sleeping) and walk around. Do 3 sets of 10 getting up on your toes. Every time you go to the bathroom do 3 sets of 5 squats. Last but not least, do some exercises in your seat. Stretch and bend your feet, followed by circular movements - keep the blood flowing!
But most importantly…
You need to stay correctly hydrated, and luckily we have developed the ultimate solution for this – never a flight without the Flight Pack - get early access here.