EU legislation slams airlines for unhealthy in-flight meals

SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Ahead of EU legislation mandating the publication of the nutritional content of airline meals in December, airlines will no longer be able to misinform consumers about the nutritional information in flight food offerings. There has been an alarming lack of knowledge among fliers about food that they consume when in the air, showing majority of people are oblivious to the nutritional content consumed while flying.

This legislation has been put in place so airlines have to divulge all information regarding the nutritional contents of in-flight meals, such as allergen information; and date of freezing for frozen meat products. This legislation will be implemented for all airlines operating between the EU and South Africa, such as British Airways.

Regardless of the legislation, there are still ways to be clever about food choices when flying, to minimise discomfort. Global flight search and travel deals website Cheapflights.co.za and a UK based nutritionist Nutritious Roots have identified tips for eating healthily and planning carefully before taking off.

Choose bloat-free foods

Changes in atmospheric pressure and sitting still for long periods can easily disrupt digestive systems. To avoid giving the intestines more work to do, give processed foods or empty carbohydrates, such as crisps, fizzy drinks or white bread, a miss before and during the flight. Instead, opt for more fibrous healthy snacks, such as unsalted nuts and seeds or wholewheat wraps. 

Pack some protein

Avoid feeling restless throughout the flight by choosing foods such as cheese, yoghurt and eggs that will help blood sugar levels stay level and keep the stomach feeling fuller for longer.

Stay away from soggy bottoms

Some fruit and vegetables can be very sensitive to the extreme temperature changes of airplanes. So lettuce, sliced tomatoes and pre-chopped fruit might not travel as well as more hardy cucumber and whole fruit pieces.

Don’t get saucy

Airlines tend to try to distract from bland-tasting meat and fish by covering them in sauce. Whilst this masks the dryness caused by reheating, they take seasoning to news levels and tend to be loaded with extra sugar and salt.

Expand the taste range

Whilst perception of sweetness and saltiness drop by up to 20% and 30% respectively at high altitude, sour, bitter and spicy flavours are less affected. The bitterness of organic matcha green tea makes it a great taste choice, with its powerful antioxidants adding extra protection from free radicals while in the air. Tomato juice is another popular option.

Say cheers to chewing gum

This traditional way to pass the time will only encourage those to swallow extra air during a flight which, in turn, could lead to extra gas build up in the gut and extreme discomfort.

Consider using earphones

Surprisingly, background noise can also play havoc with the sense of taste, with some reports suggesting umami (associated with mushrooms, spinach and marmite) is the most resistant to aircraft background noise.

Bring herbal teas

When travelling long-haul flights, cabin crew tend to be happy to serve hot water if asked. So limit caffeine and alcohol intake and choose a fruiter and rehydrating alternative which will help soothe the stomach.

Water all the way

It is common knowledge that drinking water is important but it’s even more vital to stay hydrated at high-altitude where the unnatural humidity levels make it drier than most deserts. Not only does it help avoid dry skin but it can help stave off jetlag and counter any excess sweating – especially amongst nervous flyers.

Eat early

Taste-buds become less effective throughout the flight as they succumb to cabin pressure and reduced humidity levels. Sense of smell, meanwhile, can actually account for 80% of meal enjoyment and will become less efficient mid-flight. So, for maximum enjoyment at meal-time, try to eat earlier in the journey.

For more tips and tricks from the travel experts, visit www.cheapflights.co.za