Like a hyper-organized soccer mom or OCD serial killer, the internet seems to thrive on the existence of lists. Day in and day out, somebody is publishing “The 106 Best ____” and “4,703 Tips to Improve Your ___.” As a member of the online media, let me just say that lists are about as exciting to write as watching science class filmstrips. That said, people seem to love them and that’s why you see so many on a constant basis.
Yesterday, I came across one called “20 Foods That Keep Your Belly Happy (or Bloated) on Planes” on WorldLifestyle.com. They complain about the highly scientific (is there a font I can use to signify that I’m being sarcastic?) condition of “Jet Bloat.” According to them, there’s nothing worse than this tragic condition — unless of course you combine it with hunger (they couldn’t come up with another pseudo-scientific term here? What about “Hungry Tummy” or “Empty Belly?” I came up with those in less than two seconds. Impressed?)
This is their list:
The Best Airplane Snacks:
Fresh fruit (apples, oranges)
Healthy beverages (plain water, coffee, or tea)
Dehydrated vegetables or dried fruit
Yogurt and Greek yogurt
Cottage cheese and string cheese
The Worst Airplane Snacks:
Sugary foods (candy, cookies, cake)
Here’s the problem that I have with this list. It isn’t a list of the best/worst snacks to eat on a plane. It’s a list of snacks that you should and shouldn’t be eating anywhere. I mean, seriously — cake is listed as a food to avoid in the air. Who’s bringing cake with them on-board the aircraft? I’ve never seen Mythical Mary Jo in 14B whip out a slice of red velvet to satisfy her snacking urges when we’re up in the air. And coffee? Coffee is not a healthy beverage for flying. It’s highly acidic and dehydrating.
Essentially, this list just says “eat healthy foods and avoid salt.” Not bad advice. Salt causes dehydration and, in addition to the dehydration you’re already experiencing, it’s probably a good idea to skip it as much as possible. The problem is, salt also makes things taste better and with the way air travel dulls your taste buds, salt is one of the few things that counteracts the blandness of food in the air. So you’re basically left with a Salty’s Choice of health vs. flavor. Which one is more important? I suppose that depends on your personal eating philosophy.
Me? I’d go with the salty snacks. Fake “Jet Bloat” not withstanding, I just don’t think that extra sodium is going to kill me before we land. What do you think? Is this list valuable or not? What snacks do you like to take with you on planes?