Food and nutrition in Space: How is it different from eating On Earth?

You might wonder what astronauts eat in Space? Obviously, they do not have grocery stores in space, as on earth. Then how do they maintain their diet and what do they eat for their survival? Let’s find out about the food and nutrition in space!

The food in space is prepared by a food technologist in the food labs.  The food technologist prepares food which is rich in nutrients and easy to digest. They mix different ingredients and let the Astronauts taste them and rate the taste of the food between 0 to 10. For example, a brownie score 9 if it tastes great and asparagus might be less rated due to its not so pleasuring taste. Astronauts usually eat macaroni and cheese, tortellini lasagn, ravioli and Italian food such as spaghetti and meatballs. 

Another type of meal which the Astronauts have are ready to eat which looks like a military camp packed food and these are generally called Irradiated food or Thermostabilized food. All the ingredients are already in there and the only thing that needs to be added is the spice or ketchup.

Astra nuts cannot add salt or pepper like the way we add it because dry salt and pepper float around in the space so, they are provided with liquid salt and liquid pepper so that they can add it in the packed food to enhance the taste. 

Do Astronauts eat pizza and burgers in the Space?

Astronauts cannot eat bread in space instead they use tortillas in space. Tortilla provides good nutrition as compared to normal bread. Hence, they cannot eat pizza and burgers in space. However, they can order it through email, just before they are about to land and they will get a pizza or burger in the hotel they are about to stay in. 

How is the food packaged and processed in Space?

The packaging of the food is quite similar to the packing of the food items on earth.

Food packages have velcro at the back so that they can stick the packages on their cloth, walls etc. Also, the consistency of the food also matters. The food must not have dry crumps instead it should have liquid consistently. Because there’s no gravity to hold liquids in position, astronauts have only the force of surface tension to control the behaviour of liquids in space.

So, the consistency of the liquid in space is almost like glue and it sticks together with the dry crumps. The dry crumps can cause an issue, it could get into someone’s eye and nose and could create problems. 

For NASA food items the entire food is processed at the Johnson space station. The food laboratory technicians are more concerned about the food and nutrition in space. 

So, in simple langue the food in space should be;

•    Compact 

•    Easy to prepare 

•    Nutritious 

•    Tastes good

Who decides the food menu in space?

Astrologers do have an option to decide their own menu before going to the space. They can decide their own menu for each day. There is a refrigerator in the space station, but there is no refrigeration in the space shuttle. If someone wants to carry fresh fruits in space along with them then they have to eat them in the first couple of days otherwise it might great problem. Also, they have dieticians that look at what they need and the right amount of protein and calories which will keep the astronauts healthy and help them survive. 

How much food is on board?

Also, food packaging has different colour dots on it to recognise whose food item it is. Every astronaut is provided with a different colour. 

Can you cut things in space?

Cutting things is not an easy thing in space because your food item may spill in space. 

Food and nutrition in space

It is very important to have a countermeasure about the food that how a particular food item is going to affect the body. For example, energy, and amino acids. Sodium, fatty acids etc. Nutritionists should keep an eye on the cardiovascular, muscle, fluid, electrolyte, haematology, neurovascular, endocrine, GI, and vision of the astronauts. 

The astronauts should be provided with enough calcium and Vitamin D in their diet, especially the female astronauts otherwise they may suffer from osteoporosis at a very early stage of their life. If a person is dehydrated in space, then they might lose a lot of weight. 


The body cannot store excess protein and if it is consumed in an excess amount that gets oxidized (broken down), and the by-product leads to challenges for kidneys, bones and other systems. 

So, there is really do need to consume more protein in space. 


The amount of iron you need is 8.7mg a day for men over 18. 14.8mg a day for women aged 19 to 50. 8.7mg a day for women over 50. An increase in iron can cause oxidative damage to DNA and can further cause cancer. Increases in iron storage were correlated with regional bone loss. 

In space, the blood flows easily due to less gravity and the body cells received more oxygen as compared to the earth. So, it is very important to regulate the consumption of iron in an astronaut’s diet. 

Vitamin D 

If we talk about the vitamin D levels in the blood of the astronauts, then it is the biggest issue. A normal person can get Vitamin D from sunlight and food. But astronauts do not have the option of sunlight and also food also contains less amount of Vitamin D. So, every crew member in the space is provided with 4000 USD of vitamin D. 

Severe vitamin D levels can cause brittle bones in the space. Also, they cannot exercise in space because there is no resistance to anything. 

Food items that are not allowed in space

Astronauts are not allowed to carry alcohol with them as it might affect their brain function and can cause brain fog. 

They also cannot eat ice cream in space it might cause dehydration. Ice cream can cause interference with sensitive equipment present in the space ship can create a dusty environment in microgravity.  Also, they cannot eat fish in space as it is very smelly and smell can get trapped for days in spaceships. 

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