As a frequent flier, I’ve come to accept a few things as given when it comes to air travel. For me, the greatest of these truths is that unless health precautions are taken, my body will feel significantly worse getting off the plane than it did before flying.

While kicking back at 37,000 feet may seem like a glamorous way to travel, flying’s effects on your body are anything but. From recycled air to close contact with other passengers (and their germs), air travel presents a host of physiological issues that can make you feel run down upon landing.

Fortunately, you can protect yourself against these health assailants by doing what many Spoon readers do best: eating healthy, delicious foods. Even better, there are plenty of healthy in-flight foods that are TSA-approved and won’t annoy your fellow passengers. Yes, we’re looking at you, tuna salad sandwich.


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Maybe the biggest thing I notice after getting off a plane is the dehydration. While drinking more water is an obvious solution to this problem, veggies like cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes contain over 95% water, meaning that you can eat your liquids too. Plus, they won’t get snagged at security. 

For a quick, portable lunch that will help you hydrate, try a tightly-rolled lettuce wrap with cucumber, hummus, and deli turkey. The cucumber and lettuce (as well as any other veggies you might wish to throw in) will provide necessary fluids, and the salt in a small amount of deli meat will help your body retain them.

Protect against germs

cream, cheese, balsamic
Brittany Arnett

Another major health concern for travelers is exposure to other passengers' germs. Close contact, shared spaces, and recycled air combine to create the perfect recipe for a bug. Since nobody wants to come home from their trip with a cold as a souvenir, it’s important to take precautions against infection by packing an antioxidant-rich meal to bolster your immune system.

For an easy-to-pack breakfast that’ll withstand turbulence, top a few hearty slices of whole wheat toast with strawberry or peach slices, ricotta or cream cheese, and some chopped nuts. The fresh fruit will provide beta-carotene and vitamin C, while the whole grain bread and nuts deliver cold-fighting zinc.

Amplify your oxygen intake

hummus, vegetable, bread, sauce, tomato
Keni Lin

Finally, while most air travelers assume that low oxygen in the cabin implies a state of emergency, it’s actually completely normal for oxygen levels in an airplane to be slightly lower than the air we typically inhale.  

For a snack that can help you breathe easy, try blending chickpeas and beets into a new take on hummus that you can enjoy in-flight with pita or crackers. As a courtesy towards other passengers, go light on the garlic. Chickpeas are an awesome source of iron, which transports oxygen through the blood. Beets add nitrates, which aid blood flow.

Whether you fly every week or just a few times a year, these easy tips and recipes provide the nutrition that your body needs to stay healthy in the air. Best of all, their usefulness isn’t limited to air travel: they’ll provide a boost on your next road trip, or even a pick-me-up between classes (because we all know the toll that school and stress can take on our bodies).

Next time you’re on the run and are feeling run down, reach for one of these recipes to bring your weary body back up to speed