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What to Eat (and Avoid) Before & After a Long-Haul Flight

Don't want to feel bloated and icky during your flight? Know what to eat before a flight - read on to learn more about nutrition for flights!

From brief business trips to extended vacations, planning for your trip is a stressful (but exciting) experience. But two things are often overlooked: what to eat before a flight, and what to eat after a flight.

In fact, knowing what to eat is so important that we’ve written a blog just to cover it.

Ready to learn what you should (and shouldn’t) eat before you fly?
Let’s find out!

what to eat the night before a flight

Before Your Flight

Proper pre-flight nutrition can make a significant difference in how you feel during and after your flight. And knowing what to eat is also dependent on how long your flight is. Here’s a quick breakdown:

What To Eat Before Short Flights (2 – 3 hours)

If you’re only taking a short flight, then you’ll want to have a balanced meal. You should eat 2 – 3 hours before take-off to give your body time to digest the meal. Your meal should consist of:

  • Complex carbohydrates —  This includes things like quinoa, oats, or brown rice. It’ll help you maintain a consistent energy level without causing your blood sugar to spike.
  • Lean proteins —  Lean proteins like turkey, grilled chicken, and plant-based alternatives like legumes or tofu also help to balance your blood sugar. Because they’re lighter than other proteins, you also won’t feel sleepy when you fly, and they support muscle function during your flight.
  • Healthy fats — Think avocados, nuts, and olive oil. These will help you feel full without causing discomfort.

What To Eat Before Medium To Long Flights (4+ hours)

Your meal should still be balanced before a medium to long flight, but it will be more substantial. You should eat it 3 – 4 hours before takeoff. Here are the best foods to eat before a long flight.

  • Complex carbohydrates — You should try to get some whole-grain pasta, quinoa and sweet potatoes. They’ll provide you with consistent energy over the flight without feeling bloated.
  • Lean proteins — You should choose lean protein sources such as salmon, grilled chicken, or plant-based proteins. They’ll absorb slower than the lean proteins above and also support muscle function.
  • Healthy fats — Healthy fats like olive oil, seeds and nuts are good for helping you feel full without feeling bloated.

What To Eat Before Ultra-Long Haul Flights (8+ hours)

Knowing what to eat before an ultra-long haul flight is super important because you’ll be in the air for a while. You should eat 3-4 hours before taking off for your hectic trip.

You’ll want to plan multiple snacks and meals while you’re on the plane. Here are the best foods to eat before a long flight:

  • Slow-releasing carbohydrates — Slow-release carbs like whole grains, legumes, and apples are great for keeping you full over a longer time – which you’ll want for a long flight.
  • Lean proteins — Lean proteins like grilled fish, tofu, and turkey are great for ultra-long flights because they partner with your carbs to keep you full and help with muscle function.

It’s a good idea to try and get these food groups in when it comes to your on-board meals too.

what to eat on a long flight


Here’s a list of snacks that’ll help you take care of your body while you fly:

  • Protein bars
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix


Yes, you should absolutely eat before a long flight. But hydration is even more important. Here are some guidelines and tips for staying hydrated before your flight:

  • Start 24-hours beforehand
  • Include water-rich foods (like fruits) in your pre-flight meal
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine

best food to eat night before a flight

After Your Flight

You may have touched down, but your nutrition journey isn’t done yet!
Here’s a list of what to eat after a flight:

  • Nutrient-dense snacks like Greek yoghurt
  • Plenty of fruits
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Lean proteins
  • Whole grains
  • Veggies
  • Healthy fats

Foods to Avoid

The last thing to know is what you shouldn’t eat before and after your flight.
Here’s a list of things you definitely DON’T want to eat.

  • Rich foods
  • Greasy foods
  • Foods high in sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Dehydrating foods (like salty snacks)
  • Foods with additives

can i eat my food in flight

You should also avoid huge meals, because they’ll slow down your digestion, make you feel bloated, and make you sleepy.

It’s important to remember that your body reacts differently to traveling, so knowing what to eat before a flight is vital (even if you don’t like veggies).

How Air Doctor Might Come in Handy

Air Doctor is an easy-to-use app that connects you with a global network of multi-lingual doctors and specialists so you can access medical care anywhere, anytime. So if you feel sick or need medical care on your trip, don’t forget to try our app to help you find a trusted doctor that meets your individual needs.

Air Doctor offers you plenty of great features:

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Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air Dr CEO & Co-Founder

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.