Eat Your Way Through Jet Lag

Time zone changes and salt-loaded airplane food are enough to throw you through a loop during those coveted first few days of travel. Whether you’re flying for work or pleasure, optimize your time by hacking jet lag with our simple guide.

Kiley at SideChef
April 25, 2019

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

So you booked a flight. The flight is over 5 hours. Maybe you’re traveling overseas! The prospect of a time zone change paired with several hours in an airplane’s recirculated air can be daunting and can have serious effects on your body. Luckily for you, we’ve cracked the code to successful long-haul travel so you land at your destination feeling refreshed and healthy.

24 Hours Before Your Flight

Optimizing your travel experience starts before you even get to the airport. 24 hours before a flight, I recommend going easy on gluten and salt, which are prone to make you bloat--a terrible symptom at an altitude of 31,000 feet. Additionally, this is when you’ll want to start upping your hydration game. This will help combat the oh-so-drying recycled air in the plane.

Here is a suggested meal plan for the day before a flight:

Berry Smoothie

Bon AIPpetit

You can’t go wrong with a simple smoothie to kick off your day.

Shrimp and Avocado Fresh Spring Rolls

Lemons and Basil

The wrap on this is gluten free so you won’t feel bloated. Go easy on the sweet chili sauce to avoid intaking too much salt.

Quinoa-Cranberry Grilled Chicken Salad

Jenessa Gerber

A nice hearty salad will give you a boost of vitamins to help combat any oncoming germs.

Day of Your Flight

The day of your flight (or the night before if you have an early morning flight), take the time to pack some food for the airplane. Trust me, you’ll be thanking us when “chicken or pasta” both look like terrible options. Many people don’t realize it’s perfectly okay to carry on your own food. Just be sure to remove it from your bag while going through security like you would a laptop or else they might ask to take a look through your bag. (Don’t get me started about the time I brought a log of salami to Seattle…)

Here are some recipes that carry well on a plane:

Raisin Coconut Cashew Bars

Jeanie and Lulu's Kitchen

Homemade bars are the easiest thing to carry with you on a plane. No utensils required and you know exactly what ingredients are in there.

Chinese Egg Fried Rice 蛋炒饭

Huang Kitchen

This fried rice dish is just as satisfying at room temperature and is total comfort food to enjoy while dealing with the discomforts of economy class.

Smashed Chickpea Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich

Berry Sweet Life

Skip the bread and eat this with a fork out of Tupperware. The crazy amounts of clean protein in this will keep you feeling full and fresh.

At the Airport

It’s go time! You’ve made it through security and you’ve got some time to kill before you board. Your number one priority is filling up you reusable water bottle.

I have a simple rule: If your arrival time is before noon, sleep on the plane. If it’s after, try to stay up as much as possible so you get a great first night’s sleep. This will dictate your second beverage choice which will help you with your flight plan--coffee to stay awake, or a glass of red wine to help the zzz’s come faster.

Warning! Resist the urge to eat a meal in the airport at all costs! It’s overpriced, overly salty and never really that good. You prepared for this! Your pre-packed foods will get you through your travels.

On Your Flight

Start to acquaint your body with your new time zone by eating meals based on the time at your destination. Everytime I fly to Asia, the airline tries to serve me breakfast right before we land at 6pm--I’m not into that! Get your body used to your new mealtimes asap by eating the breakfast food or lunch/dinner food you brought along at the proper time.

Don’t forget to keep Hydrating! A fun tip for you: Flight attendants will usually fill your reusable bottle so you don’t have to go through a bunch of plastic cups or bottles.

If you’re planning to sleep on the plane, make sure to have these essential items: Eye mask, noise canceling headphones or ear plugs, an extra pair of socks, and a cozy hooded sweatshirt.

Airplanes are unfortunately full of germs with all those strangers in close proximity! Make sure you are washing your hands thoroughly and regularly. Make it a reason to get up and stretch your legs.

After Your Flight

On your first day, it’s crucial to stay up as late as you can--at least until 9pm. Continue to drink lots of water and enjoy your adventure!!

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