Milton Keynes’ sweet tooth: What food makes you happy?

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Desserts have been unveiled as Milton Keynes’ most evocative food according to research from Bupa.

The research explores the powerful link between food and mood and found that the humble apple crumble trumped many Milton Keynes household favourites to make residents feel comforted – beating shepherd’s pie (17%), bangers and mash (11%) and fish and chips (22%).

Desserts were also most likely to make people nostalgic, with strawberries and cream making 31% of city residents happy and ice cream named as the food most likely to remind them of childhood memories (38%).

When looking after an older person the challenge is often getting them to eat enough – it’s one time when more calories can be better. That’s why Bupa believes it’s important to understand the wider issues that affect its care home residents’ enjoyment and appetite for food, beyond nutrition and substance.

And residents from Bupa’s care homes echoed the nation’s penchant for puddings. While taking part in a series of in-depth research sessions, they cited cakes and desserts as the foods most likely to evoke happy memories, often connected to thoughts of home baking and childhood indulgences.

Dr Pablo Vandenabeele, psychiatrist and Bupa’s head of mental health said: “Food is much more than just taste and sustenance, it connects us to family traditions, cherished moments and loved ones. There is also a well-known link between food and mood – for example a reduced appetite can be an early warning sign of problems such as depression.

Desserts are often the foods we choose to celebrate, to treat or spoil ourselves, so we are more likely to connect them with happy moments from our lives, and are memories we recall with such fondness.”

Nationally, the exception to the ‘dessert’ rule was the archetypal family meal, the roast dinner, which featured highly across the board. Despite the diversity of cuisines available in the UK, and curry’s reputation as Britain’s best-loved dish[1], 42% of us turn to roast dinner to make us feel at home.

With almost two thirds of Milton Keynes residents (62%) saying food can boost their mood and many more of us nationally (80%) saying families today are missing out on creating happy memories by not eating meals together, Bupa is highlighting the role that food can play in improving wellbeing, above and beyond nutrition. Recognising its power to make people really feel at home, especially for older people, Bupa is committed to understanding the relationship between its care home residents and food.

Tim Brooke, head of hotel services for Bupa care homes, said: “Everyone has a favourite food and everyone has a meal that reminds them of home – our relationship with food is important. At Bupa, we know that while nutrition is important, food is more than just fuel, it’s part of who we are.

“We want our residents to feel at home and happy in their surroundings and providing the food people love and enjoy is an important part of what we do.

“For example, it’s why we’ve created special rooms in many of our homes that families can use to hold celebratory meals for loved ones who are living with us.”

To find out more about Bupa’s care homes please visit: https://www.bupa.co.uk/care-services