Blue Monday falls on January 21 this year, and is typically the day where most Scots feel a bit blue following the celebrations of Christmas and the long stretch until January payday.
Forget ‘New Year, New You’, Gousto wants to spread a bit of ‘New Year cheer’ with a fantastic list of comforting food ideas & the nutrients that contribute to that comforting feeling.
So, why are some foods so comforting?
There are so many reasons why comfort food, comforts. A 2011 study suggests that comfort foods are often associated with being taken care of and the stronger these emotional relationships, the more comforting the food was seen to be.
Forgetting about our emotions for a second, there might even be a scientific reason that food feels comforting, in the form of the nutrient dopamine. This is the ‘happy hormone’ and it is thought that eating more dopamine rich foods can have mood-boosting or comforting qualities.
There are many foods that fall into the ‘dopamine diet’ which is why we have put together a list of 7 dopamine rich comfort foods, perfect for discomforting times.
1. Fish and Chips
Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, known to help boost the happy hormone in the body, dopamine. Another way to increase the dopamine hit within your fish and chips is to fry them in rapeseed oil. This oil contains omega-3 as well as having a high cooking temperature, perfect for deep frying.
Top Tip: Eating regular meals will help to prevent a drop in dopamine levels in the body, making cravings much less likely.
2. Strawberries and Cream
This sweet treat is as comforting as it is mood-boosting, with fresh fruit and dairy products being great sources of the happy hormone.
Top Tip: To start your day off right, why not replace the cream with greek yoghurt and sprinkle on some ground almonds or flaxseeds, both high in essential fatty acids, too.
3. Roasted, Grilled or BBQ’d Chicken
Lean meat such as chicken is a great source of protein and when prepared simply (such as roasting in the oven or on a grill) it has very low levels of saturated fat.
Combine with a selection of roasted veggies for a comforting and dopamine rich meal.
Top Top: Serve grilled or roasted chicken with a yoghurt and lemon sauce for a double dopamine hit.
4. Cheese on Toast
A simple and quick snack combines comforting carbohydrates with protein-rich dairy. This comforting combination is known to contribute to the release of the happy hormones in the body.
Top Tip: Use flaxseed or wholemeal bread to make your cheese on toast. Those seeds and grains are all great sources of dopamine.
5. Hot Chocolate made with 80% dark chocolate
No chopping involved with this comforting cuppa! Dark chocolate is well reported for its mood-boosting and antioxidant-rich qualities
6. Tuna, Salmon and Mackerel
Oily fish is incredibly rich in essential fatty acids, which are turned into dopamine by the body.
Top Tip: If you’re not keen on the flavour or texture of oily fish, why not try making it into fishcakes? Perfect if you have little ones to convince, too!
7. Almond Nut Butter
You’d be surprised at how many nutrients are contained within the shell of a nut. They contain the perfect blend of essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and feel completely comforting when blended into a nut butter and spread on toast for a dopamine fuelled snack.