How To Improve Your Mood With Food

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Oct 26, 2021

Dietitian Dr Liz Isenring’s shares her advice on how to improve your mood with food. 

Now, before you say that you don’t have the time, money or interest to eat healthily, hear me out!

Truth is, we make poorer nutritional choices when stressed. Rather than grabbing coffee, sugar and junk food as we get busy, I recommend nutrient-rich, healthy foods, to help improve your mood and reduce stress levels. Cravings for junk food increase when stressed, and this can have short and long-term consequences such as anxiety, depression and other mental disorders. 

Our brain and gut “talk” to one another. Our mental health and food intake are connected through chemicals called neurotransmitters such as; dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine and GABA, which are critical for mood, anxiety, concentration, reward and motivation. Building a healthy shopping and food preparation habit into your daily/weekly routine is important. After all, prioritising your own health and wellbeing, ensures you’re the best version of you, for your family, work and friends. 

Here are some important foods to incorporate: 

Healthy Munchies: 

Replace the chips, muffins, processed food with fresh products such as carrot sticks, edamame, celery sticks, sunflower seeds, and fruits. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and carotenoids. Vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and zinc are important for optimal cognitive and emotional functioning. As we come into summer try frozen fruit (berries and grapes are yum), air-popped popcorn, chickpea nuts, and fruit dipped in dark chocolate for a special treat. 

Potassium-rich food: 


Potassium is an important mineral that is involved in muscle contraction and relaxation. Potassium-rich foods such as banana, pumpkin seeds, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, and avocado can stabilize your blood pressure and reduce stress.

Probiotics foods: 

Probiotics are products that contain healthy bacteria such as yogurt and kefir. Fermented foods also have this good bacteria but are not as widely studied as probiotics. Fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and  kombucha. Good bacteria is not only important for a healthy gut and digestion, but also elevates our mood and helps reduce stress. Pass the yogurt please! (Tip: add some low sugar protein powder and berries for a yummy high protein snack or dessert).  

Omega-3-fatty acids:  

Omega-3-fatty acids form an integral part of neuronal cell membranes & are powerful anti-inflammatories. Omega-3-fatty acids have been shown to be effective as either stand-alone or adjunctive treatment for ADHD, major depressive disorder, bipolar depression and PTSD (plus an added benefit is that they are good for your skin, gut and immune health). Omega-3-fatty acids are found in fish, seafood, grass-fed animals, hemp seeds and fish oil supplements. 

Switch to a healthy eating environment: 


Swap these baddies for some goodies: 

  • Soft drinks to sparkling water/juices – add herbs, spices and berries to jazz them up
  • Milk chocolate to dark chocolate 
  • Flavoured latte to herbal or green tea 
  • Chips to veggies sticks, roasted chickpeas or Brussel sprout chips 
  • High sugar to high fibre cereal, like rolled oats or All-bran
  • Fatty meats to fish
  • Takeaway burgers to homemade sandwich/wrap 

Here is an example of a healthy diet to boost mood and reduce stress: 

Breakfast: start the day with some smoked salmon or other fatty fish on rye or sough dough bread. Add some salad and fruit. The omega 3 fatty acid from the fish will decrease inflammation in the body. 

Morning munch: 

Brazil nuts with a piece of fruit. 


Include a side salad or soup to your normal lunch prep. The antioxidants and vitamin Bs from beans, citrus, dark green vegetables can reduce inflammation and stress.

Afternoon treat: 

A piece of dark chocolate because the flavanol from dark chocolate has been shown to improve cognitive function. Combine with a green or herbal tea. 


Add some healthy carbs such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, or brown rice which can help you sleep better and reduce stress the next day. 

Ladies, you are vital and therefore need to be vital!

Dr Liz

Dr Liz Isenring is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, Honorary Adjunct Professor at Bond University and CEO of LINC Nutrition. She is the author of 150 published scientific white papers and books, and has been the recipient of $4 million in grant funding.  Her work has helped hundreds of thousands of people in more than 40 countries.


Access your free Gut Map and Path to a Stronger Immune System here.



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