Good Mood Food
Good Mood Food
We all know the hallmarks of depression: low mood, lack of motivation, and feelings of hopelessness. Most people experience these as a fleeting reaction to life’s trials and tribulations. The UK survey carried out by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and involving 37,000 people in Britain found that as many as 1 in 3 people say they sometimes or frequently feel depressed and suffer from low moods.
There is a direct link between mood and blood sugar balance. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose and your brain runs on glucose. The more uneven your blood sugar supply, the more uneven your mood. Sugar has been implicated in aggressive behaviour, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Lots of refined carbohydrates are linked with depression because these foods not only supply very little in the way of nutrients but also use up mood-enhancing B vitamins.

Stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and nicotine, will throw your brain chemistry awry. Alcohol in particular acts as a depressant. Food sensitivities will also impact brain chemistry. The brain communicates via chemical neurotransmitters (e.g. dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and GABA). A deficiency or imbalance is likely to have a negative effect on your moods, thoughts, and behaviors.

These neurotransmitters are made from the food we eat. For example, serotonin is made from tryptophan, which is found in chicken, eggs, bananas, dairy, and dates. Dopamine (the brain’s amphetamine) is made from phenylalanine, which is found in grains, eggs, meat, almonds, and soybeans. GABA (the brain’s natural Valium) is made from glutamine and is found in meat and cabbage. A diet that does not take in varied or adequate amounts of these foods will not promote optimal brain functioning in relation to stabilizing mood.

The majority of the brain is made of fat and requires essential fatty acids (EFAs) from your diet to maintain optimal functioning. EFAs help improve mood as they are the main constituent of the neuroreceptors that receive the messages delivered by the neurotransmitters

Nutrition Action Plan 

Make sure you eat protein from beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, and meat, which are all high in tryptophan, the precursor for serotonin. 

If your motivation is low, ensure you get the amino acids you need from pulses, wheatgerm, yogurt, poultry, almonds, sunflower, and sesame seeds. 

Test your homocysteine levels (doctor or home test). If your level is above 9mmol/l you may want to consider taking a combined homocysteine supplement of B2, B6, B12, folic acid, zinc, and TMG (trimethylglycine). Speak to your doctor or health practitioner first. Ensuring homocysteine stays low means that your brain will methylate well, keeping its chemistry ticking over and in balance. The ideal level is below 6 and the average level is 10. The risk of depression doubles with levels above 15. Also, eat whole foods rich in B vitamins: whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Folic acid is particularly abundant in green vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. 

Ensure you are getting enough omega-3s through food and supplementation. Eat a serving of either sardines, mackerel, herring, or wild/organic salmon, three times a week. Very little of the omega-3 fats in flax, pumpkin seeds or walnuts convert into EPA – one of the ‘brain fats’ – so, while these are good to eat, they don’t have the same anti-depressant effect. 

Keep your fuel supply stable. Eat a diet that will stabilise your blood sugar.

In addition to essential fatty acid deficiencies, depression has been linked to B vitamin, magnesium, and zinc deficiencies. See above for foods rich in B vitamins. Zinc-rich foods are fish, crab, oysters, dark meat on poultry, nuts, seeds, and pulses. Magnesium is found in oat bran, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables. 

Dehydration will cause headaches and sufficient water is essential for mood health, so drink plenty of water. 

Reduce alcohol intake. After the initial sugar rush has subsided, it acts as a depressant. It also depletes the body of EFAs and B vitamins (crucial for neurotransmitter production). 

• WARNING: If you are taking prescription anti-depressants, do not take supplements without your doctor’s advice. Do not wean yourself off prescription anti-depressants without the guidance of your doctor. Always seek personal advice from your health practitioner before supplementing any nutrients, including chromium.

Daily good mood food checklist

Eat at least 5 servings of veg and no more than 2 servings of fruit. 

Eat a handful of mixed nuts. 

Eat 1 spoonful of mixed seeds. 

Include whole grains in your meals – brown rice, whole oats, quinoa, barley, rye, etc. 

Drink 2 liters of pure, filtered water.

These guidelines contain generalised supplementation information that is publicly available and supplements can be purchased at natural health stores. It is your responsibility to discuss any supplementation with your health professional or doctor, particularly if you are on medication. 


weaning baby
Healthy way to wean your baby
Breast milk is a remarkable gift from a mother to her baby, offering far more than just nourishment and comfort. As it flows from you to your little one, it unfolds a carefully orchestrated sequence of nutrients, each playing a vital role in your baby’s growth and well-being.

Amino Acids: The Building Blocks

The first to flow from breast milk are predigested proteins in the form of amino acids. These amino acids serve as the building blocks for your baby’s rapidly growing body. They are essential for various physiological processes, including tissue repair and muscle development.

Fats: Nourishing the Brain

Following amino acids, breast milk releases fats. These fats are crucial for brain and nerve development. The fatty acids in breast milk support the growth of your baby’s rapidly developing nervous system. This makes breast milk a perfect source of essential nutrients for your baby’s cognitive development.

Sugars: Fueling Growth

Last but not least, breast milk provides sugars. These sugars serve as an energy source for the rapid growth and development your baby is experiencing. They offer the necessary fuel to help your baby thrive and maintain vitality.

Weaning Your Baby: A Gradual Transition

As your baby grows, there comes a time when you’ll need to introduce solid foods into their diet. Weaning typically begins around 4-6 months of age. A good indicator that your baby is ready for their first taste of food is when they can sit up on their own, demonstrating increased neck and head control.

The Mighty Avocado: A Perfect Start

One of the best foods to kickstart your baby’s culinary journey is avocado. It is a nutrient-dense superfood, almost like a complete meal in itself. Avocado’s composition is remarkably close to breast milk, making it an excellent choice for the transition to solid foods. Packed with healthy fats, it boasts 20 different vitamins and minerals essential for your baby’s growth and overall health.

Veggies First, Then Grains

When introducing solid foods, opt for vegetables before fruits. Vegetables are often more nutrient-dense and a healthier choice. Start with single-vegetable purees such as butternut, sweet potato, baby marrows, and carrots. After a couple of weeks, you can explore combined vegetable purees for a more diverse taste.

Protein on the Menu

After a month or so, you can begin introducing finger-sized portions of protein. Start with white fish pureed with vegetables, then gradually include chicken, and finally red meat. These protein sources will provide the necessary nutrients for your baby’s growth.

Allergen Awareness

In the first year of a baby’s life, their digestive system is still developing. To minimize the risk of food allergies and eczema, it’s advisable to limit the introduction of potential allergens. Avoid gluten and wheat, and opt for gluten-free grains such as millet, sorghum, chia, rice, and corn.

Additionally, be cautious with citrus fruits and nightshade foods like tomatoes, eggplants, mushrooms, and peppers. These foods may be challenging for your baby’s developing digestive system.

Gradual Introduction of Other Foods

Pulses, dairy, and eggs can be introduced towards the end of the first year. Take this transition gradually, and always monitor your baby’s reaction to new foods.

A Journey to Enjoy

This is an exciting time for both you and your baby. Keep in mind that it’s not meant to be stressful. These guidelines are here to serve as a general framework but feel free to adjust them according to your baby’s unique needs.

Exploring Tastes and Textures

Allow your baby to get accustomed to one flavor at a time. Let them explore the texture and smell of each food. Don’t be afraid to let them get messy; it’s all part of the learning process.

Baby-Led Weaning: A Unique Approach

Consider exploring “baby-led weaning” to give your baby more control over their eating experience. This approach encourages them to discover and enjoy food at their own pace.

Share the Joy of Meals

Lastly, make mealtime a joyful family experience. Eat with your baby and let them observe and learn from your actions. Meals are more enjoyable when shared, fostering a sense of togetherness and delight in the journey of food discovery.