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Ask Elsa: Flying will ruin my sun holiday

Q I'm heading to Spain on holidays next month which I'm looking forward to. However, I find that flying knocks my digestive system off kilter and I feel sluggish and bloated for a few days after, any advice?

ABy following a few simple tips, you can easily avoid the unpleasant symptoms that come with flying, such as bloating, wind and water retention. This can be done by avoiding such obvious culprits as fizzy drinks, caffeine and alcohol on the flight. Instead, stay hydrated with plenty of water or herbal teas. Also, avoid salty snack foods such as crackers and pretzels that can contribute to water retention -- bring your own healthy snacks on the flight such as nuts and fruit. That way you'll arrive at your destination feeling energetic.

Summer holidays are the perfect time to ditch the bread-based lunches and opt for tasty and nutritious salads that will help keep your bowels moving efficiently. Bread is a fast release carbohydrate which means it can upset our blood sugar balance and cause energy dips.

Salads, on the other hand, are a quick and healthy option which will keep you energised and alert even in the heat. But don't just eat a bowl of leaves, make sure to add a good source of protein. Chicken, salmon, hard-boiled egg and chick peas all make for great salad fillers.

QI'm a college student on a tight budget and I can't cook so I tend to rely on noodles or microwave dinners to keep me going. I've definitely gained weight and my skin has disimproved since I moved out of home. Could this be the processed food?

ASome processed foods are harmless e.g. milk, cheese, frozen vegetables, etc. However, highly processed foods can often be laden with sugar, artificial sweeteners, salts,and preservatives which if consumed in excess can increase risk factors for obesity, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and even bowel cancer.

Much of the goodness is processed out of ready-made meals. We do not benefit from the living enzymes and natural nutrients the foods normally contain which aid digestion and absorption. Also artificial sugars, colourings and preservatives can act as anti-nutrients -- foods that have no nutritional value.

Regularly eating highly processed food that is high in fat and sugar can also be somewhat addictive, as both have the ability to stimulate receptors in the brain that make you feel good. There are plenty of cheap and simple dinner options that you could try, such as bean stew, a veggie omelette or a jacket potato filled with tuna or baked beans. See my website for recipes.

Elsa Jones is a qualified nutritional therapist. She offers one-to-one consultations to treat your individual health concerns. www.elsajones nutrition.ie