Few situations are more combustible in our day and age than long-distance travel, making airports veritable breeding grounds for the angry, the frustrated, and sometimes, the hungry. Capitalizing upon all these emotions and hoping to turn that frown upside down is London’s Gatwick Airport, which is embarking upon the ingenious (if it works) idea of offering their passengers literal “happy meals” chock full of mood improving hormones that should make for an all-around better travel experience. With dishes like a salmon citrus salad meant to improve brain function and a blood-sugar-steadying fattoush salad, even the most finicky frequent flyer may be subdued.
According to nutritionist Jo Travers, who is helping Gatwick Airport with the new menu rollout, “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.’”
Travers continued, “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.”
For one month, Gatwick will be trialing these new culinary offerings, and the airport is certainly hoping to see some reduction in complaints and general misery as a result of these happy meals. With more and more people flying and with an ever-growing number of destinations, it’s no wonder that the travel industry is hard pressed to make the experience more enjoyable overall.
There are, of course, a few standards that can be abided by across airlines and airports. As Raymond Kallau, founder of travel website Airline Trends, told CNN, “Passengers traveling by air often have a long and tiring day that is filled with snacks, and making it easier for them to choose the right kind of food, promoting a light meal instead of one that is high in carbs, will make them feel better.”
Geirthrudur Alfredsdottir, a pilot with Icelandair and editor of the Fit to Fly website, also offers his own advice to passengers. “There are many things people can do to be in better condition for flying,” says Alfredsdottir. “They should eat light meals before, stretch and do some small exercises.”
So there you have it. The next time you’re on a 20-hour transatlantic journey, try to make your way through Gatwick airport. Or at the very least, snack healthy, and try to move around.