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Paula Kraft

Tastefully Yours

Paula Kraft, founder and President of Atlanta, GA-based Tastefully Yours Catering.

Banishing the Winter Blues

he forecast for the weekend here in Atlanta is 'cloudy', 'dull' and 'showers'. These gloomy skies tend to depress me; they pull my mood down; I feel tired, and have to make myself wear a smile.

I know . . . you say, “how can that be?” as many of you have never seen this side of me. I love blue skies and the brisk cold air, but send in those grey clouds, the drizzly misty rain, and that damp feeling of cold in my bones and, oh yes, I do get temporarily in the dumps.

Now - already in the dumps - I listened to a webinar about the trends in global obesity only to hear that 30% of the world’s population was considered obese. So further down I slump. I decided right then and there that my new resolution was going to be to take off some weight. I thought to myself - 'I’ll buy a scale, that's what I'll do; I can chart my progress' (or failure). Now whether that's going to pull me out of the dumps or push me further in, I don’t know yet.

I decided while listening to this webinar that I would weigh myself every day - just as I hear the speaker in the back of my head tell his audience that " the biggest mistake a dieter or someone simply maintaining their weight can do is to weigh every day.”

Ok, shelve that idea. It turns out that we shouldn’t weigh every day, we should judge by how our clothes fit. I buy the stretchy comfy kind so that won’t work for me. I still need a scale! The speaker says that if I do weigh and want to raise my mood, then I should weigh only on Fridays. Statistics show that we humans weigh less on a Friday morning than any other day - because we're good all week, making good food choices. (Hmmmm, not so sure about that). We should never weigh on Monday mornings because we weigh the most on that day.

Although the webinar was full of data and great information, I still find that I'm chilled to the bone and feeling blue today. I am slightly grouchy (no, seriously grouchy!) and really low on energy. With all of my nutritional background I have to stop and look at myself and ask, " what's going on?"

This was more than the thought of going on a diet making me feel this way. I was skipping meals, eating all kinds of junk this week. The weather was dreadful . . . I was too tired to cook, so I bought a quick bite at anything with a drive through window. I snacked on chips while lying on the sofa in front of the fire to get warm ( a seriously poor food choice!); I ordered pizza for dinner ( another poor choice); I was hungry and couldn’t satisfy my cravings. This reminded me of what I thought might be a typical flight crew diet while on the road. Vending machine junk, something quick here and there, a bite of a meal and not finishing it, right?

Well, I have the solution for those moody grey days, the stressed days, the days where you just want to feel a bit perkier. It will get you out of your moody blue days.

I read an article sometime back printed in the American Journal of Psychiatry (no it's not what you think, it was relating to diet, nutrition and exercise . . . really!).

Did you know that research proves that your moods may slump because your brain needs good continuous fuel? When you get hungry and do not satisfy your need for food, you get cranky. And if you eat a lot of junk and processed foods you will have a much higher risk for depression and that feeling of the blues. 

The quality of the food and snacks, not the quantity. The healthier the foods - rather than those processed and packaged - work better to keep those moody blues away.

Here are some examples of what and why these foods will work to turn around the moody blues and then keep your mood elevated

1. Eat foods loaded with B vitamin Folate. "Recent research shows that blood levels of folate are lower in people who are depressed than in people who are not depressed. Researchers believe that B vitamins help break down the amino acid homocysteine, which, at high levels may be linked to depression and the moody blues”. Since many of us are already salad lovers, you have a head start. Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, most all beans, citrus fruits which are in season and any fortified grain product will provide you with folate.

2. I have already mentioned grains, but there are multiple reasons why you should eat more of them when you get the doldrums. The biggest reason we get the blues is our hunger isn’t being satisfied. As we get hungry our blood sugar level drops and this causes an area in our brains to react which affects moods. “Studies show that dense carbohydrates can solve this problem because they increase the brain chemical serotonin, which is a mood enhancer.” For a great brain serotonin boost, eat complex carbohydrates such as beans and brown rice.

3. If you are anxious, stressed, and having a moody blues day, you may have consumed a bit too many stimulants to keep you awake or get that extra bit of energy you craved. You may have consumed a few cups of coffee, even a few shots of espresso, and eaten a chocolate bar or two. Try eating a food which naturally will calm you down. Foods high in tryptophan. This is an amino acid that is thought to have a positive effect on stress because it helps the brain produce feel-good chemicals. Tryptophan is important for increasing your brain's levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, can help you feel calm and even more alert. You ask, where do I find this wonder food? In turkey, chicken, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds.

4. Cranky? Not only is this also a characteristic of low blood sugar levels, but it can easily be alleviated by eating a little bit of something healthy every three to four hours. Diet you say? . . . eat a high protein Greek yogurt and some berries, or a handful of nuts or almonds. These foods will raise that blood sugar level slowly and perfectly, but, will also sustain those levels to suppress your moody cranky blues. Tried the yogurt and still feel cranky and stressed? Join me with my solution; a cup of tea. I drink it hot, cold, room temp. I like green tea, black tea, white tea . . . you name it! Research shows that those who drink tea over those who don’t have significantly less of the stress hormone cortisol in their system. The participants in this research study also stated they felt less stress and a greater sense of relaxation. No wonder, I love my tea. Of the types of tea available, Black tea has been shown to improve memory. It may even help get rid of headaches and increase mental alertness. I seriously need that with these grey skies.

5. I think everyone has heard the praises of omega-3 sung over and over. Omega-3 will also help reduce that brain fog that sets in during your grey skies, light drizzle of rain that makes you just want to curl up in a blanket for the day. Omega-3 to the rescue! Like every aircraft, to work smoothly, it needs a bit of oil. Well, so does our brain. “Omega-3 fats make cell membranes more fluid, improving communication between brain cells, so mood-elevating neurotransmitters such as serotonin can get through.” Eating fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, herring, and anchovies will grease those wheels.

I’ve followed my own advice today, and I now have a smile on my face, I am a bit more “perky” in my voice, and the moody blue doldrums have left for now. Amazing what the right food choices will do for you!

For those of you with cranky moody passengers and flight crews for whom you are planning meals, keep these ideas in mind and see if you can’t make a change in their moody blues too . . . and it doesn’t have to be just for this time of the year!


Tastefully Yours

About Paula Kraft . . .

Paula Kraft is the founding partner of the DaVinci Inflight Training Institute located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the founder/president of Tastefully Yours Catering, an aviation specific caterer, located in Atlanta, Georgia for over 35 years.

Paula is active with many aviation and catering-related groups including the International Caterers Association, the International Inflight Food Service Association and is a board member of Women in Corporate Aviation. She is the past chair of the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee Caterer’s Working Group for 15 years perfecting unique catering training sessions for NBAA conferences and events. Currently, she serves on the NBAA Flight Attendant Advisory Committee and is a member of the Training and Safety Subcommittee. Paula was a founding member of the Steering committee for the creation of a European Flight Attendant Committee and conference and serves as a subject matter expert to the board of International Standard for Business Aircraft Handlers (IS-BAH).

After founding Tastefully Yours Catering, she has been offering culinary and food safety related training to the general aviation community. With a strong dedication to improving catering safety, risk mitigation and safe food handling, she developed and introduced the concept of “catering safety management systems”. As a certified food safety instructor, Paula offers catering SMS and culinary classes for all aviation professionals.

Paula’s first-hand experience, business acumen, research, and relationships make her an industry expert - one which allows her to share information that will help raise the professional training level for flight attendants today that will reduce the risk of food-related concerns tomorrow.

click to visit DaVinci Training Institute

From Paula . . .

I have coordinated training programs and clinics for NBAA and EBAA conference attendees for over 10 years, created mentoring programs for caterers and flight attendants to broaden their aviation culinary skills, and to assist them in adapting to the unique challenges and constraints found in catering for general aviation. I recognize the need for training and have worked closely with flight departments, flight crews, schedulers and customer service reps at the FBOs to ensure that catering specific training provides information and skills necessary to reduce risk while assisting them in their job duties that include safe food handling, catering security, accurate transmission of food orders, and safe food production, packaging and delivery.

I fell into aviation catering quite by accident. I was the in-house caterer and bakery supplier for Macy’s department stores in Atlanta when catering was ordered for a Macy’s customer which was soon to change my life. After the client enjoyed the catering provided, I was summoned to the client’s corporate office to provide several of the items delivered through Macy’s to the executive dining room. Within a week, I was providing food for the flight department and my first order was for the President of a foreign country (as I was too be told soon after).

So, here I am, some 35 years later, still loving every minute of every day in aviation catering.

Got a question?

Paula welcomes your comments, questions or feedback
BlueSky Business Aviation News | 5th April 2018 | Issue #458

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