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‘Happy meals’ launched at Gatwick airport to cheer up grumpy passengers

We’ve all had, or been close to, an airport meltdown. Long queues to get through security, delayed flights, kids running amok through the departure lounge — air travel is ripe with reasons to be in a funk. The most common response might be to sink your teeth into some comfort food — or head straight for the nearest bar — but London’s Gatwick airport is proposing a rather different approach.

Nutritionist Jo Travers has teamed up with the airport to create nutritious dishes to lift passengers’ moods, with a smiley, sunglasses-wearing emoji next to each “happy meal” on the menu for easy identification.

Eight Gatwick restaurants now have healthy, mood-boosting dishes available throughout August, including salmon citrus salad at Frankie & Benny’s, king crab and caviar at seafood eatery Caviar House and Garfunkel’s house salad. Each dish is packed with ingredients for brain health such as B vitamins, Omega 3 essential fats and low-GI carbohydrates.

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Travers said people often don’t realise just how great an impact the food they eat can have on their mood, reported The Telegraph. “Happiness is a complex thing,” she said, “but there are certain foods that will help the ‘happy’ chemicals in your brain to keep flowing. Two key players are the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, along with amino acids tryptophan and theanine, which can contribute to the creation of serotonin, known to most as ‘happy hormones’. Low levels of these chemicals can cause fatigue in addition to lowering existing levels of serotonin. Similarly, a deficiency of Omega 3 can lead to fatigue and mood swings.”

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Of course you don’t have to be travelling from Gatwick airport to make mood-enhancing meal choices. Here are the top 10 foods to add to your weekly shop to create your own happy meals.

1. Bananas are rich in mood-boosting magnesium, energy-producing potassium and vitamin B6, making them the perfect on-the-go breakfast to get your day started in the right way.

2. Tuna is packed with Omega 3 fatty acid, considered to be one of the most effective natural antidepressants.

3. Salmon is an excellent dietary source of vitamin D and rich in Omega 3 fatty acid, both of which have been shown to enhance the levels of serotonin in the brain.

4. Oats are great for stabilising mood because they have a low GI level, meaning they release energy slowly to prevent blood sugar spikes and the associated fatigue and moodiness.

5. Citrus fruit like oranges, grapefruits and lemons can provide an instant mood lift due to their high vitamin C content and energy-boosting natural sugars.

6. Spinach is packed with good stuff and it’s the folate content that keeps us happy; studies have linked depression to a lack of folate in the body.

7. Nuts and seeds can’t be beaten for their brain-boosting properties, including Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, folate, vitamin E and vitamin B6, which allow you to think more clearly and more positively.

8. Green tea is full of catechins, which help keep the mind sharp and fresh, encourage it to relax and ward off mental fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate (in small quantities) can release endorphins and boost serotonin levels in the brain without producing the crash caused by eating heaps of sugar-laden milk chocolate.

10. Soy products are packed with antioxidants to correct chemical imbalances in the brain linked to depression and mood swings, with the added benefits of improved memory and thinking power.

(From Nutrition for Life)

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