Happy Foods! (International Day of Happiness)

Today is International Day of Happiness!

Food can play a big part in our levels of happiness and the importance of a good diet for mental health is becoming better understood through research. Eating well is intrinsically linked to feeling well, and it should be no surprise that eating rubbish food and doing no exercise makes us feel awful... we have all been there at some point I imagine!

We all have foods that make us feel good; comforting, warming or just so delicious that you feel happy whenever you eat the food/meal. My happy food is probably a fruit crumble with custard. As far as I’m concerned, the ultimate comfort/happy food! 

However it can get a bit more technical than this when you look at the impact of nutrients and the smaller components of food and how these work to up the levels of happiness. 

So how do you eat to feel happy? 

Sadly there is no single food that will press the happy button; more of a consistent combination of regular meals and snacks and a good variety of fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, healthy fibre, lean protein and good carbohydrates. We want plenty of good sustained energy levels with loads of antioxidants to keep the immune system on top form plus we want a healthy gut and we want to sleep well. Tick all of these boxes and chances you are well on your way to having conquered the nutritional aspects of a happy diet! 

Although the above is only ever going to be achieved through a holistic approach to meals and snacks, there are however a few foods that are well worth including in your "happy diet" for their helpful properties! 

Oily Fish – There is a huge amount of research linking brain health to these great omega-3 fats that are found in abundance in oily fish amongst other foods. Eating salmon or fresh tuna, sardines or mackerel once a week will top up your omega 3 fat intake nicely!

Mushrooms – There is an increasing body of research showing a link between low levels of vitamin D and depression. Mushrooms are a great natural source of vitamin D so why not treat yourself to some gently fried mushrooms on toast for lunch one day... we love it with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little rosemary.

Bananas – these are rich in B vitamins and tryptophan, both of which can play important roles in keeping our mood up. B vitamins are involved in regulating our energy levels and tryptophan is involved in how well we sleep... both really important to have enough of when it comes to a good mood!

So why not try incorporating these 3 lovely foods into your weekly meals using some of the following meals:

Baked salmon and green beans – one of my staples:
- Oven on to 180 / Gas 5
- On a baking tray lay out 2 salmon fillets with 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes and 2 handfuls of fine green beans plus one handful of black pitted olives
- Drizzle some oil and season and cook for 12-15 minutes, mixing and turning the vegetables once during cooking
- Serve on its own or with some crusty bread to mop up the lovely juices

Mushrooms sliced and fried gently in a little sunflower oil and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice and some rosemary, mixed well together and served on a slice of toasted sourdough bread. Yum!

Bananas – why not try some banana "nice" cream and serve it with a hot apple or rhubarb crumble? Freeze some slices of banana and whenever you want to eat, blitz them in a blender with some natural greek yoghurt! This is a great alternative to sugary ice cream and kids love it.  

So here are some simple happy food recipes that you can work into your day to day diet. They are also happy foods because they are low cost, low effort and very little in the way of mess/washing up to clear away afterwards. Win win!

We hope you're having a happy day... let us know what your happy food is!