Just as the flight attendant made the final “please remain seated with your seat belt fastened until the captain turns off the Fasten Seat Belt sign” announcement and silence had returned to the cabin, the vile, can’t-take-them-anywhere gases that had been waging a full-blown war inside of me for the last fifteen minutes erupted with the staccato sound of military-grade machine gunfire.
“Oh, noooo! This cannot be happening.” My mind screamed in utter mortification and panic.
I – even more so than my surprised seatmate and the cute toddler sitting in the aisle across from us who abruptly stopped playing with his metallic Crayola coloring pad and markers to turn and stare – wanted to immediately duck and take cover. But sadly, there were zero places to hide. So, I did what any sane person would do in that moment. I clutched my stomach and started writhing and groaning as if my entire abdominal section was being ripped apart with a chain saw. Because, embarrassed as I was, I decided then and there that even if I had to mosey into The Maldives on a stretcher, there was no way I was standing up and walking off that plane if I had to look anyone in the eye.
Okay, real talk. I’ve never been to the Maldives so that scenario didn’t really happen, though others have been close. [Ha ha…gotchu!] But now that I have your attention, if you’ve ever found yourself having to unzip your pants, roll down your tights, or struggle not to annihilate your fellow passengers with foul-smelling gas on a flight, this post is for you. Take notes, because I’m about to share some valuable insider tips on how to minimize gas and bloating when you travel.
First…what causes excessive gas and bloating?
According to several medical sites, having gas in your system is a normal part of the digestive process. However, excessive gas can be caused by different reasons. Consuming food and drinks that tend to induce bloating or gassy reactions is the most common, while water retention, sudden changes in your diet, inactivity, inadvertently swallowing air, having anxiety or stress, and getting older are others.
How to avoid gas and bloating
Don’t overeat. Sometimes simply eating too much and too fast can cause bloating. You can avoid going through the discomfort of that by chewing more slowly and stopping yourself before you feel full.
Avoid foods that are gas producing. Everyone has a different reaction to the various food groups, and most people already have a good idea of which ones cause them to experience gas or bloating. But just in case you don’t, the common culprits are soy goods, processed carbs (like bread, pasta, biscuits, rice and wheat products), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, collard greens, bok choy, arugula, watercress and radishes), and dairy products (especially if you are lactose intolerant like I am). Lentils and beans are also powerful sources of gas ‘ammunition’ and in addition to milk, they are my personal brand of kryptonite.
Skip soda. When the flight attendant comes down the aisle with the food trolley, skip the soda and any other carbonated beverages like champagne, sparkling water, seltzer and beer, please. The bubbles in them are filled with gas and when you drink those liquids, guess what fills up your digestive track? Belching helps get rid of some of it, but once the gas lands inside your intestines, it stays there until it gets out …some other way.
Pack healthy snacks. Portable plant foods that are high in soluble fiber make good snacks because they keep you feeling full and also help you stay hydrated because their water quotient is high. Think strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber and oranges, and the like. You can pair them with hummus or guacamole dips and nuts like sunflower seeds or hazelnuts. Pistachios are some of my faves! Click on the image below to see my go-to brand.
Leave the sugar-free gum and candy at home. Too much sugar can cause you to retain more water and feel bloated, so to minimize gas and bloating, leave them at home.
Don’t use straws. When we drink with a draw, we also are inadvertently ingesting extra air into our stomachs. With no where to go, that additional gas can cause trouble, so before you board your flight with that cup of juice, leave the straws in trash bins at the gate.
Keep moving. Walking through the aisle periodically can aid with digestion as food moves through our digestive tract in rhythmic contractions and moving about helps that process along by keeping the intestines working more efficiently. An added benefit is that it also reduces the possibility of fluid retention and blood clots from deep vein thrombosis.
Stash anti-inflammatory teas in your bag. Growing up in Jamaica, our home remedies included mint and ginger for almost any ailment. In this instance, they’re useful too. If you’re not a fan of either, other teas like turmeric, green tea and chai also have pain relief properties that can help in these types of situations.
Take probiotic tablets. Probiotics are live microorganisms that you get through fermented foods or supplements. They help balance your “good” and “bad” bacteria to keep your digestive system working the way it should. Note: Always check with your doctor before taking any medication.
And those are my tips! Do you know any other tried and true methods to minimize gas and bloating when you fly? If so, drop them in the comments below.
The Amazon links included in this post are affiliated, which means I earn a small commission if you purchase them. Err…did I say small? Well, I actually meant TINY. lol.