You’ve carefully screened your carry-on for unacceptable items, made it through airport security as painlessly as possible and have finally sat down (not so) comfortably in your tiny economy-class seat. You probably think the perils of flying are, for the most part, over. But surviving the long flight ahead could cause a few snafus you didn’t see coming. Some of these fumbles could happen because of the food you choose to eat on your flight.
Sure, some snacks at the airport are healthier than others and airplane food has some wacky qualities of its own. But even if you bring your own food on board, there are reasons to be cautious. Some foods just don’t belong anywhere near the inside of an airplane. While in-flight safety tips can protect you from the dangers of flying, these in-flight eating tips will save you from the scorn of your fellow passengers — and from a few health risks, too.
Many people like to imbibe in flight because it can help calm nerves and increase chances of falling asleep. But don’t bring your own booze on the plane — it’s one of the worst things you can do to annoy your flight attendants. Part of their job is to make sure you don’t drink too much, so they actually monitor your drinking during the flight. By bringing your own alcohol on board, you’re making their job a lot harder.
Otherwise a fibrous, healthy addition to your dinner, beans could set you up for a bad time in flight. It’s true what they say about beans — they give you gas. Unless you want to spend the flight hiding your chagrin at the unpleasant odor, you may want to avoid eating them while you fly.
Cheetos cheese dust (which is, believe it or not, partially made from cheese) leaves a layer of bright orange residue behind. Most of this is going to stick to your fingers, but some could drift down to your seat and the poor souls surrounding you. And though it’s tempting, you really don’t want to lick your hands clean while you’re on a flight. This childhood habit was gross then, but it’s even grosser when you’re surrounded by all the bacteria on an airplane.
Going to town on a plate of hot wings is an activity best reserved for game day — not for the few hours you’re smooshed into close quarters with strangers. These sauce-drenched finger foods are going to be an absolute mess for you to eat. If you are bold enough to eat these in flight, be prepared to hold on to the pile of dirty napkins until a flight attendant decides to pass by with the opportunity to throw them away. And even once you do manage to discard your trash, washing your hands clean in the tiny bathroom sink is no easy task.
Drinking the coffee on an airplane can actually make you sick. This is one of the secrets only flight attendants know, but a recent study confirmed their suspicions. The coffee on board is made using local tap water and the tanks used to store the water aren’t cleaned as often as they should be, meaning that bacteria could be lurking.
Chicken nuggets and french fries are great for any other time, but they aren’t courteous snacks to bring on an airplane. The smell of fried food will float around the cabin, either bothering your fellow passengers or giving them cravings for greasy fast food. Either way, everyone around you is going to feel like they’re on the world’s longest flight.
With all the things you’ve heard about airplane food, you might be tempted to just wait until you’ve landed safely to eat. But this is actually a really bad idea. If you don’t eat during a long flight, your blood sugar levels could drop, making you feel weak, shaky and nauseous. You may also feel an uptick in your anxiety and a less stable mood. Blood sugar changes could make jet lag worse, as well.
Aside from the fact that nuts are a common allergen, shelled nuts or seeds are still a terrible idea to bring on a plane. Think about it: Where are you going to get rid of all those splintery shells? Sunflower seeds are an especially bad idea because you have to physically spit out the shells as you eat them. Do your seatmates a favor and just don’t.
Though on any other occasion, there’s no reason not to drink as much sparkling water as you please, you may want to cut back on an airplane. The bubbles can make you gassy and bloated, both of which sound like really uncomfortable symptoms for a long flight.
You might be tempted to add lots of hot sauce or other spice to your food, since your taste buds dull at higher altitudes. But don’t go overboard, especially if you’re prone to heartburn. Spicy foods can cause acid reflux; you don’t want to get stuck in a situation where you’re in a ton of pain with no mode of heartburn relief.
Sushi doesn’t smell, you can eat it cold and it’s easily portable. So what’s the problem? Simply put, sushi is just too complicated to eat onboard a plane. With so many components, if there were turbulence the likelihood is high that your soy sauce would spill everywhere, a sushi roll would plummet to the ground or some other disaster would strike. And even though wasabi is rarely made from actual wasabi, it’s still super spicy and could cause heartburn. You want to stick to something that’s easy to eat and easily contained, like a sandwich or salad bowl.
The tap water on board a flight comes from water tanks that aren’t cleaned as often as they should be. The dark, murky tanks could be harboring bacteria and other contaminants. If you want water while on board, ask for bottled water instead.
The trouble with eating too much sodium when you fly has less to do with its effect on your blood pressure and more to do with short-term symptoms. Many people experience swelling to their hands and feet when they fly, largely because of the lack of movement leading to poor circulation. People with heart troubles are more prone to this symptom than others. But no matter who you are, eating too much sodium can make this swelling worse. Sodium can be found not only in obviously salty-tasting foods, but in other unsuspecting sources, so it’s hard to eliminate entirely. Try to limit sodium any way you can, and avoid the worst offenders.
Trail mix is a popular airport snack, but opt for another packaged snack food if you can. Trail mix often contains allergens such as tree nuts. Additionally, dried fruit and nuts are both difficult for your stomach to digest compared to other foods due to the high concentrations of fats and sugars. This might be the only time it’s a better idea to pick out the chocolate chips and leave the rest of your trail mix behind.
Bringing your own yogurt through security is a no-go, since it’s too large of a liquid container to pass in your carry-on. But if you buy yogurt at the gate, make sure to eat it before you’re in the air. The foil-topped containers of yogurt are apt to explode due to pressure changes in the cabin. One way not to make friends with your neighbor on an airplane? Exploding a cup of yogurt in their vicinity. Make sure not to make any of these other mistakes on an airplane, either, or your flight attendants might hate you.
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