Jet lag, urgh. Right? I still have a vivid memory of when I was younger, jumping up and down on our hotel beds in Hong Kong at some obscene hour of the night. Quite frankly, I found it enjoyable when I had no responsibilities, but my mother would probably say otherwise. Most people have experienced jet lag and it can be a real damper to your travel plans… and well, the world would be a much better place without. Enter: Fasting.
In the final month of 2018, I traveled from Malta to Vancouver, Canada for a 2-day workshop and for a total of 6 days. Between the two destinations, there is a 8-hour difference and I knew I did not have time to be jet lagged – I had to be on my game and focused for work. After a bit of research, I found myself reading more about how fasting while traveling can be used as a method to beat jet lag! Say what? I had actually experimented with this method in August when I traveled to Halifax, Canada (a 5 hour time difference) and found myself barely jet lagged! My pilot of a father was moderately impressed… but he is also the world’s best sleeper on an airplane, whereas I like to watch all the movies possible from take-off to landing, even if that means watching Bridget Jone’s Diary for the 68th time.
But let’s get down to fasting. While going through several time zones or having our meal times changed, our circadian rhythm is compromised and our body can fail to preform at its best. This rhythm is at the core of the experience of jet lag. Research have continued to study a protocol that will help reset your rhythm when traveling and that protocol is fasting. Essentially, your body’s internal clock is reset and turned on with the first meal of the day or “breakfast” once at your destination.
Imagine this. You board your flight at 2 pm London time, having just had lunch in the terminal before your 10 hour flight. A few hours after take-off, the flight attendance bring out your first meal. But you just ate not long ago and it would only be 5 pm in London, why do you need to eat again? Once it becomes 8 pm in London time, you have had a meal and just before they turn off the lights to help you get that wink of sleep, the snacks start to circulate. More unnecessary food. The breakfast is served approximately 2 hours before landing, which at this point it is 2 pm at the origin and 10 pm in London. Is your body used to eating this late? By the time you are off the plane at 4 pm (local time), step into the natural sunlight of the afternoon and having had your egg wrap and coffee on the plane, you won’t be hungry again until late evening… and this will confuse your body.
Imagine the opposite scenario: After having lunch in the terminal, you board your plane with your filled up reusable water bottles. Throughout your flight you do not accept any meals, proceed to drink a tonne of water or herbal tea to combat the hunger (which in the end keeps your very hydrated). Upon arriving at 4 pm, once you are at your hotel.. you go out for your meal, which is dinner. Perfect timing. Over the course of the flight, your body has had a chance to reset. And by having you first meal off the plane, your rhythm is now back in action!
Eating on plane has also been known to cause a plethora of digestive issues as well. Our bodies go through stress while flying with the high altitude, air quality, not drinking enough, high sodium foods etc. Stress to our bodies equals stress on the gut. But fasting while flying? Well that definitely solved all my issues! During this long-haul flight, I was also on a mission to not create any plastic waste… and guess what all the airplane food is packaged in? Plastic. Read more of that post here on How I Travelel 30 Hours Plastic-Free!
My experiences with fasting while flying:
– Did not experience any digestive discomfort from airplane food
– More time to read or sleep, meals did not interrupt my schedule (of doing nothing)
– Drank way more water than I usually would, which kept me very hydrated. I am usually very dehydrated after flying.
– Drinking more water makes you go for walks more – which is always suggested during long flights
– Did not create any plastic waste
– NO jet lag!! I went to bed at 9 pm local time and woke up at 5:30 am the next day (my usual schedule). Felt great for the entire week!
– Received many funny looks from my next door neighbour and flight attendance
– Hungry during the first two hours (but then the sensation went away)
– Having to ask the flight attendance for water every hour… I’m sure they got a bit annoyed!
There are other ways to beat jet lag on the plane.I advise everyone to do their own research and see what works best for them! Here are a few which I found online:
- Meal timing: make sure you only eat the plane meals if the times line up with the usual eating times in your destination time zone. If your dinner is served at 10 pm, skip it and wait until breakfast served before landing. If may require some calculations and odd looks from the flight attendance, but it will be worth it!
- Daylight exposure: Studies show that the circadian rhythm is most sensitive to light exposure. Make sure to plan your sleeping schedule to make the time at your destinations and to bring an eye mask! I know the in-flight entertainment is always tempting, but make sure you get ample sleep during your journey.
- Three Reasons to Fast On Your Next Long Haul Flight!
- Other tips for How to Fly Healthy
Let me know if you have ever tried fasting on a plane, or if you have any other tips and trick!
Thanks for listening!