Monarch Airlines launched a mood-enhancing menu in August to calm passengers during flights. The “Mood food” box includes echinacea ice cream and licorice cakes to boost immunity and relax, as well as herbal teas to reduce bloating. Monarch conducted research that found 72% of British travelers find travel stressful, and 33% do not relax until their third day on holiday.
Monarch worked with Professor Charles Spence to create the menu. He is an experimental psychologist and former collaborator with Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck in the UK, a Michelin-starred UK restaurant. Spence says that eating well can be an afterthought when traveling. I’ve enjoyed working with Monarch on the creation of the first ‘happy meal’ to put travelers in a holiday mood quickly.
Monarch has taken on the challenge of reducing the stress of travel. The International Air Transport Association reported that the number of unruly people on planes grew by 14% in 2015. This shows the need for airlines to address the increasing frustration of passengers and “air-rage”. Gatwick Airport investigated this in 2015 when several restaurants in its North and South Terminals tested the use of mood-lifting ingredients.
In our Well Economy report, we explore the growing recognition that food can have an impact on mood. Food and drink are now seen as an important part of managing physical and mental well-being, and not just achieving a certain physique. Dr. Smood is a healthy food chain that plays on this trend by offering anti-inflammatory foods that are 80% plant-based. Many of their products claim to energize the consumer. In two years, the company has expanded from one cafe to five. Four more are scheduled for this year. Larger restaurant franchises are also adopting this trend. Pizza Hut released a mood-enhancing pizza just in time for Blue Monday. Apps can also be used to assist consumers. Yolk detects sadness, anger, and anxiety using AI and suggests food that can improve mood.
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Research has shown that there is a link between food and mental health. A study from 2017 found that a Mediterranean-style anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables, olive oil, and nuts, as well as fish, reduced depression symptoms by 32%.
Food can impact your health and well-being. The consumer is beginning to realize that their food choices can affect how they feel. This knowledge should be taken up by brands and applied wherever possible to their customer journey.