McDonalds may have coined the 'happy meal' phrase, but let's be honest, does anyone ever really feel euphoric after eating a bunch of highly processed fried food? If the uncomfortable indigestion that inevitably follows the golden arches 'happy meal' is anything to go on, the answer is a resounding no. 

However, according to nutritionist Fiona Tuck, author of The Forensic Nutritionist, the 'happy meal' does actually exist - there are certain foods that boost our mood and turn the dial in our brain to the smiley face emoticon. And on the flip side, there are some foods that make us feel flat as a tack. Read on for Fiona's wise advice on how to eat happy and which 'sad' foods to avoid:

Which foods make us feel happy? 
Foods to help with mood and brain function include legumes, nuts, seeds, good fats such as oily fish and avocados, flaxseed, salmon, turkey and bananas.

Image: @lumadeline

Why are they 'happy' foods? 
Eating fresh, nutrient rich foods is important to supply the body with the nutrients that it needs to keep our neurotransmitters and nervous system healthy. When we become depleted in certain nutrients particularly vitamin B12, B6, folate, iron, tryptophan and vitamin D it can affect our mood.

Which foods or drinks make us feel sad? 
Some foods such as sugar, trans fats and alcohol can deplete the body of nutrients which can affect mood. Coffee and tea can inhibit iron absorption for example and alcohol is a natural depressant. Highly processed foods high in trans fats, additives, salt and sugar may deplete the body of important nutrients and can lower the mood.

For optimal 'happiness' what foods would you recommended adding to our diet? 

Legumes such as lentils or chickpeas contain folate and iron which help boost the mood.

The happiest people all eat these foods

Salmon which contains essential fats for brain health and also the amino acid tryptophan which is required for serotonin production, our happy hormone.

Bananas contain B vitamins and tryptophan to boost the mood.

Nuts and seeds for minerals and good fats, particularly walnuts. Is it a coincidence that walnuts look like the brain?

Eggs contain protein and are an important source of choline, which is key for healthy neurotransmitter function and cell membrane function.

Image: @whatforbreakfast

Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, oats and brown rice help regulate blood glucose which is important for healthy brain function and cognitive health. Carbohydrates help with an elevated mood and increased mental alertness.

Fiona Tuck's book The Forensic Nutritionist is available now from her website: www.fionatuck.com 
Instagram: @fionatucknutrition

The happiest people all eat these foods