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Nutritional tips for avoiding jetlag

I’m one of those lucky ones who doesn’t really get jetlag. Either that, or I’m so used to feeling this way I don’t even notice it’s the lag!

But lately I’ve begun to notice a little swelling in the old feet and ankles – not quite cankle material, but I reckon I’m getting there. I’ve also noticed that sometimes I can be a little (ahem) gassy. I know, it’s not polite conversation and fortunately what with the noise of the plane and so many people in close proximity it’s easy to pass the blame.

So, if you’re “asking for a friend” about how to avoid such problems on your next flight, here are some tips from Singapore Airlines‘ chefs about what foods to eat and what to avoid.

Singapore Airlines was the first airline to hire a Culinary Panel. Back in 1998 they pulled together a group of award-winning and Michelin-star chefs to create a balanced selection of meals that not only taste good at altitude, but are good for you. Hermann Freidanck and 8 international chefs are responsible for creating all the menus on the gazillion flights the airline does daily.

Singapore Airlines culinary panel

Here’s the Culinary Panel, the folks who make all the complicated decisions about your inflight meals

Above and Beyond

Above and Beyond, Singapore Airlines’ new recipe book

Here are Hermann’s tips to ensure a comfortable and jetlag-free flight and avoid travel sickness and indigestion:

1. Jetlag: Do you ever find yourself starving about ten minutes after you land even though you just ate an omelet? The reason is because meals act as “time cures” so adjusting the amount and time you eat will make a big difference in helping your body clock click into place. Opt for a light meal that is relatively easy to digest as it’s best to arrive feeling slightly hungry. Then eating a high protein meal once you land means you’ll be able to keep as active as possible in a bid to switch to the new time zone.

“A light but high protein egg option is offered across all classes prior to landing in Singapore on the London and Manchester services to help customers keep active for the day on arrival.”

Singapore Airlines Chinese food

These Chinese inspired dishes are carefully planned to be easy on your stomach

2. Travel sickness: If your tummy gets a little queasy in flight, ginger is a good settler (as every woman who’s ever been pregnant will know). Opt for ginger ale from the drinks cart. Ginger is also used in many Oriental dishes so when on Singapore Airlines, you’ll get the choice of a meal to help your stomach.

“First and Business customers choosing the pre-flight Book the Cook option can select items such as classic the Singaporean dish Chicken Rice which is served with a ginger condiment.”

3. Indigestion: Sitting in a plane at altitude for long periods of time can make your system sluggish, so apart from getting up and having a bit of a walk around (good for those swollen ankles), certain foods are helpful. Potatoes have alkaloids that are thought to have an antacid effect and turmeric is a digestive aid, so you’ll find meals with both of those in them on Singapore Airlines flights in all classes. Pineapple also helps to break food down in the stomach, and veges, wholegrains and fish are also easier on the tum.

“One of the popular Book the Cook items is Fish soufflé and spicy minced chicken served with pineapple rice and curried vegetables while a fish or seafood option is always available across all classes on all routes.”

4. Anxiety: Vitamin B has a profound effect on the nervous system. You’ll find this in whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Celery is also prescribed by Natropaths to help with anxiety, so you could eat this before you fly. Dehydration can also cause stress and headaches so plenty of water is helpful.

“Menus are planned to ensure proteins and vegetables are not repeated between meal services to provide a variety in the amount and types of anxiety-reducing vegetables consumed.”

Lobster thermidor

Order the Lobster thermidor to keep you awake

5. Fatigue: If you plan on working on the plane or need to be on your game when you land, choosing food to keep your energy levels up is important. Zinc is the nutrient you need and you’ll find that in protein-rich foods. Conversely, if you want to sleep, chilli is one of the most commonly used ingredients.

“The most popular dish ordered through the Book the Cook option on Singapore Airlines is Lobster Thermidor, which is high in protein for business travellers looking to work inflight.”

6. Bloating: Breads, broccoli, beans and peaches are known to cause gases – so tell your friend to avoid them before you fly. Also, once onboard limit your intake of fatty foods, salty snacks and fizzy drinks if you suffer from bloating. Green tea is good for relieving trapped wind as it has detoxifying properties that break down the enzymes. Bananas, berries, onions and garlic are also good for digestion.

“Opt for Japanese green tea onboard Singapore Airlines if you are likely to suffer with digestive ailments inflight.”


Jump to my review of Singapore Airlines A380 here >>>

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!