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It’s been said that food is either your best medicine or slowest poison. With World Health Day approaching on Saturday, 7 April, Luane Lavery, Brand Communication Manager for British Airways and kulula.com, offers the following advice for travellers.

Don’t gas and go: some people find that foods with plenty of onions, cabbage and beans make them feel gassy and bloated, and these symptoms can be aggravated by air travel. If you’re affected like that, avoid those foods before flying to prevent discomfort for yourself and other travellers. Some people find that sipping peppermint tea and cutting down on fizzy or sugary drinks ease these symptoms.

Hydrate: consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of single-use plastic and dropping a little cash on reusable bottles. You can carry yours onboard and the flight attendants will refill it for you when you need it. As a simple rule, sip 250ml of water for every hour on the plane.

Moderation rules: a glass of good wine or a perfectly chilled beer are appropriate rewards for doing grown-up stuff like travelling to be an ambassador for your business, or to celebrate embarking on that well-earned holiday. Drinking the drinks-trolley dry? Not so much. It’s bad for your health in many ways and you’ll feel poorly afterwards. Stick to the legal limit whether or not you’re driving after your flight and you’ll feel ready to enjoy what comes after your flight, whether it’s a presentation or vacation. The same applies to caffeine: one or two good, strong coffees are a treat; more than three can leave you jittery and nauseas.

Crunch-time for road warriors: Foods with crackle and crunch, like carrots, lettuce, celery, apples and nuts, have been shown to aid concentration, so if you need to finish that winning PowerPoint presentation on plane, opt for those foods, or arrange for them with the airline beforehand. (See how to do that at the end of this piece.)

Chow down with care: you might not regard your body as a temple, but one easy way to prepare for an enjoyable flight is to avoid food that will make you feel grim once airborne. Food that’s very greasy or starchy is a bad idea at the best of times, but eating it before a flight is a particularly bad. Also, airline food is, of necessity, made under very strict controls, so it sometimes gets a bad rap, you might be better off with it than the dodgy hole-in-the-wall spot near your office. Comair has established its own catering business, Food Directions, so it can have complete control over quality and efficiency for the food supplied to its two airline brands, kulula.com and British Airways (operated by Comair). There’s some serious science behind making sure food tastes good at 30 000 feet and a lot of research has gone into exploring how our taste-buds adapt to the pressurisation and dryness of airliner cabins, and the food is prepared accordingly.

Lastly, says Lavery, let the airline know about your dietary requirements at least 48 hours before you fly: Diabetic, Low-fat, Gluten-free, Vegan, Hindu, Halal, Kosher or a children’s meal can all be accommodated. Other special meals need at least 24 hours’ notice. Just log on to ba.com, going to “Manage my booking” and click on “Request a special meal”. The airline is there to make sure you have an awesome experience each time you fly, so don’t be afraid to ask,” says Lavery.

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