Mood Food, The New Wellness Craze

By Strategy

Date: 30 April, 2018

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Feeding the Gut Feeling

Can you eat yourself happy? This month, our ROTHCO Cultural Strategists explore “The Psychobiotic Revolution” and how it’s going to bring us even closer to the food we eat.

Food and fitness have always gone hand in hand. Our Instagram feeds are full of kale and wheatgrass smoothies, countless variations of ‘energy balls’ and even the odd ‘skinny bitch green salad with goji berries’ (err what?). Science is going to new lengths to help us streamline our diets, but recent research is fuelling a different type of food craze. ‘The Psychobiotic Revolution’ is a wellness movement that shows us how to quite literally, eat ourselves happy.

How is this trend emerging?

Our gut is in the spotlight. Years of eating processed food have left up to 40% of adults in the UK with gut problems, and in Ireland, Google searches for ‘foods to avoid with gut problems’ have risen by 700% in 5 years. It’s not just the physical side effects that have left people cautious – people are becoming more aware of the role our gut plays in our mental health. The often-overlooked network of neurons lining our guts is so extensive that some scientists have nicknamed it our “second brain” and evidence shows that gut inflammation has strong links to mental health issues such a depression.

A new kind of café culture is emerging worldwide, one that promises their visitors will be leaving not only full, but also happy. High Mood Food is a café in London that allows visitors to choose their meal based on how they want to feel afterwards. People can choose options such as ‘Calm’, ‘Happy’ and ‘Energy’  all brimming with gut pleasing fermented “living food” such as kraut pots, kefirs, smoothies and superfood lattes – all of which are obviously totally Instagrammable as well. The café also offers out of hours’ fermentation workshops that teaches London urbanites the benefits of home fermentation.

Although people are making a conscious effort to bring gut health into their day to day diets, everyone’s gut is very personal and what works for one person may not work for another. American company Viome offers high-end personalised gut nutrition advice that promises users ‘maximum wellness’ leaving them with an enhanced mood, energy and overall better well-being – all for $99 a month! All users have to do is send off a sample of their poo (yes you read that right, you send them your poo through the post). Once samples have been analysed, the company use AI to generate diet, nutrition and lifestyle recommendations, along with one on one coaching support.

See the video here.

What brands are doing it well?

We all know that aeroplane food isn’t known for its taste or quality. Rather than trying to change this perception, Monarch Airlines is focusing on the calming potential of nutrition. The in-flight ‘Mood Food’ box includes feel-good snacks like green tea mochi rice cakes, herbal tea, and seaweed biscuits. The range has been created in collaboration with food psychologist Charles Spence in response to a survey conducted by the airline, which revealed that nearly three-quarters of people find travelling to their holiday destination stressful. “Travelling is a time when we’re under pressure and rushed, so eating well is often an afterthought,” says Spence. “Food can be a powerful psychological and physiological tool.” Given that people often eat for emotional reasons – 70% of women and 50% of men eat chocolate when they want to lift their mood, for example – Monarch’s ‘Mood Food’ is a smart move that allows the brand to induce those holiday feels that little bit earlier.

Why are we telling you this?

As humans, we are always striving to be happier and healthier. People are starting to rethink their relationship with food, cutting out things that they no longer feel are beneficial. Sales of digestive remedies are set to increase to €382 billion in the next 4 years and it’s been predicted that the future of healthcare will be centred around the microbes in our gut. There is still a huge opportunity for brands to connect with their consumers through their emotional relationship with food and help define how it really makes them feel.

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