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Up in the air

Here's the lowdown on the perfect pre-flight meal plan so that you stay hydrated and healthy all through your long-haul journey.

Nmami Agarwal | New Delhi |

How they show flight trips in the movies – sitting cozily, befriending a nice neighbour, toasting together, comfy travel, and a sound sleep. But like any other movie, the reality is strikingly different – wailing babies, cramped leg space, stinky neighbour, and terrible jet lag. If that wasn't enough, you have to rely on distasteful in-flight food, sit all bloated and uneasy while making multiple embarrassing trips to the lavatory. At times, you de-board contracting a new infection. That's no way to travel, be it for a vacation or a regular business trip.

The best you could do is to adjust to your external environment by insisting on a better seat and using earplugs. However, your internal environment – your gut and mind – are a different story. Everything is in your hands. So, here's a quick break-up of the do's and don'ts of pre-flight eating:

The must grubs Citrus wonders for immunity: Airports and flights are filled with germs of all kinds; it's wise to load yourself with citrus fruits like oranges, lime, and grapefruit that are a rich source of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Boost your immunity before you board.

Herbs to hydrate: Caffeinated beverages, like coffee, are diuretics which drain the water out of the body. We all know, how dry the environment inside a flight is; so go for herbal teas for hydration, or pick decaf options.

Fruity yogurt for the gut: Yogurt is a natural probiotic and makes the gut healthier by keeping a check on belching and flatulence. However, don't go too heavy; a small cup of naturally sweetened yogurt is enough.

Lean protein to fill you up: Feeling satiated and full of energy is of utmost importance. Do so with lean proteins with their lesser fried versions, such as unsalted nuts, grilled chicken, eggs, etc.

The Dare Not Eats Foods high in sodium and processing: No, salt is not the only source. Most of the sodium in our food is invisible. Processed items such as burger, pizza, fries, and even waffles come packed with sodium that leads to water retention and 'jetbloat'. Avoid them at all costs.

Cheesy bites: Cheese is heavy, stays in the system for longer and is difficult to digest. Moreover, it can cause bloating and flatulence. Refrain from having even a bite of it.

Carbonated drinks: Beverages like soda and colas are one of the primary contributors to gastric issues and bad mouth odour. Every time you feel like picking one, repeat this mantra: Fizzy on ground, Fussy in air.

Chewing gums: It's a common myth that chewing a gum helps you feel better while travelling. The truth is that it's a minor surge in blood glucose which plummets back in no time leaving you with an urge to pop another gum in. Bonus tips for the time you're flying Alterations in temperature and pressure in a flight numb your taste buds which make the in-flight foods taste unappetizing. To counter that, the airlines add more spices and salt to your meals. It's best not to leave yourself at the mercy of those meals.

Pack a travel-friendly grub

Go Caffeine-free in air, and Opt out of processed and fried foods.

A salad founded on dark-green, leafy veggies coupled with some nuts and granola bar make for a sustainable, nourishing, and filling snack to carry up in air. For coping with the ambient dryness, herbal tea and coconut water are great options.

On long flights, there's no way out of the pre-packaged airline meals. In such cases, ask for unprocessed items. That way, you at least cut down on the invisible sodium, if not more. Signing off What you eat before travelling impacts your overall health and mood. While it is important to eat light and healthy before jetting off for your vacation, it is also wise not to overload oneself while in air. Always look for healthier alternatives before lunging on a fast food item. Bid a big bye to embarrassment and starvation. Have a pleasant trip!