Do you find yourself taking airplane flights frequently for work or pleasure? You may be familiar with the feeling of dread you have when you think about the in-flight food you will have to eat. You find that nothing seems to taste any good when you are in the air.
Why does airplane food taste bad?
Well, your feeling has a scientific basis as German researchers at Fraunhofer Institute found that the aircraft’s cabin atmosphere, which is pressurized at 2,400 meters, when combined with cabin air numbs about a third of our 10,000 taste buds.
Once more, the stillness of the cabin tends to dry out the mucus membranes in the nose. This dulls the olfactory sensors that affect taste. It was also found that at high altitudes one’s perception of saltiness and sweetness drops by about 30 per cent. These are some of the reasons why our sense of taste is somewhat skewed when we are in the air.
Harold McGee, scientist and author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, writes that food starts to deteriorate when it is warmed up to room temperature or higher. If it is warmed up over 160 degrees Celsius for meat or 140 degrees for fish the food will end up being tough and dry. Airline food is prepared, cooled and stored until the time it is ready to be loaded onto the flight. This can often take time; sometimes hours pass from the time it was cooked. This means that the food is likely to become chewy and dried up by the time we receive it.
Always choose protein based food
Hermann Freidanck is in charge of creating the airlines’ globally renowned on-board menus. He advises that people should choose protein based food but to make sure that the food is not heavy. Research has found that being a little hungry is better than eating too much on a flight. Freidanck recommends eggs for breakfast and for other meals chicken, tuna or light colored fish.
Ginger ale as drinks
Another tip that Freidanck provides is to choose ginger ale as a drink. He says that ginger helps to quell the effects of travel sickness. Many Asian dishes include ginger so if you see any of these dishes on the menu, choose them.
Food to bring
If you have a chance you may opt to bring your own food with you on the airplane. If you have this option, then go for protein-rich foods. The protein in the food will help you feel full so you will be less likely to feel the urge to snack in between meals. You might like to buy protein bars or make yourself a cold pasta salad or a chicken sandwich.
It is a good idea to select food that do not have offensive odours. Strong smelling food can permeate the cabin leaving behind an unwanted odour. Also, try to choose food that can last for a long period of time without refrigeration. It is best to select something that will not get crushed in your bag, as finding bits of food at the bottom of your bag after the flight can be annoying. Dried nuts, sliced apples or crackers with peanut butter can all be great options.
Foods to steer clear of
The air pressure in the airplane can upset your intestinal system, so it is best to avoid eating anything that will further disturb the balance in your gut. Gassy foods should be avoided; these foods include: beans, broccoli, onions and carbonated beverages. You should try not to bring greasy food as it may make you feel greasy and the smell will permeate the cabin.
So next time you plan on traveling by air it will give you a greater sense of comfort and well-being if you pay attention to what you eat. Try to stick to the lighter meals with high protein content and grab a ginger ale drink and you should have a more enjoyable flying experience.