These days I get about in a few online women’s business groups.  These are mostly women who are fiercely passionate about educating and supporting families in and around health, happiness and well-being.

I couldn’t give up the chance to have a few of them come and share their love and passion with you.

This week we have the beautiful Teresa from “Thelma & Terese” who is talking all about the relationship between “food and mood”.  She has even gifted us a wonderful nourishing recipe at the end of the blog mmmm.

Terese is fiercely passionate about spreading her health message and has an abundance of information on her website if you wanted to check it out (scroll to the bottom where we have all of the links)!

Over to you Theresa!



Does the food we eat really affect our mood?

Absolutely it does. Feeling irritable, tired, uncomfortable and guilty could be a result of skipping meals, too much caffeine/alcohol, too much refined sugar or overeating. For a stable mood, we need to be eating a balanced whole-food diet at regular meal times with nutritious snacks in between as needed.

However, there are many other factors that contribute to how we feel when we look at the way food interacts with our brain and GUT.


Our brain uses neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine as communication signals to communicate with the rest of our body and tell it what to do. Balanced levels of neurotransmitters in the brain improve mood, sleep and increase alertness.

These mood-affecting chemicals and precursors like tryptophan are made of amino acids found in protein-based foods such as:

  • Eggs
  • Meats
  • Almonds
  • Fish
  • Legumes
  • Oats
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas

The concept of raising serotonin (feel good chemical) levels in the brain with diet is complex, and more studies are needed in this area to discover the most effective way to allow the neurotransmitters from food to move through the blood-brain barrier.  


Low glycemic index carbohydrates such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Oats
  • Legumes

provide a more stable mood and energy levels, rather than foods high in simple sugars that make us feel energised but only for a short amount of time, leaving us feeling tired and craving more.


Our brain needs fatty acids to support brain structure and function. The polyunsaturated fats are known as the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Today, many people are consuming way more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3, putting the ratio out of balance. We need to ensure we are getting sufficient omega-3’s into our diet to support our brain function and mood.

Omega-6 fatty acids: ideas are nuts, seeds, sunflower oil

Omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon, Flax seedsSardines (Tip: mash and combine with sauerkraut to balance out the strong flavour)


In particular, it is the B vitamins that are important for the production of neurotransmitters mentioned above. Deficiency can include irritability, short attention spans and poor memory. B vitamins can be found in foods such as:

  • Brown rice
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Meats
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli

GUT Health


A healthy gut is important for a healthy mood, healthy weight and strong immune system. The food that we eat greatly affects the types of bacteria that live inside us.

Foods like:

  • Fermented veggies
  • Bone broth
  • Kefir

help to rebalance the gut flora.

Prebiotic foods

Prebiotics promote the growth of good bacteria within the gut. Probiotics are the bacteria and prebiotics are types of fibre that feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive system. Prebiotics are types of fibre that can be found in: vegetables, fruits and legumes. Eating a variety of foods such as:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Garlic
  • Onions

support a healthy digestion and immune function.

Absorption of Food

Certain proteins and molecules such as gluten, casein, lactose and fructose can cause some individuals major issues. Some people absorb certain foods poorly disrupting the GUT function. When foods aren’t digested effectively it can lead to inflammation which has a knock on effect causing all sorts of issues within our bodies and ultimately having a large impact on our mood. For any symptoms, it is best to seek individual advice prior to eliminating foods to ensure a nutritious and varied diet is still being met.  

Here’s one of my favourite meals that contains turkey, legumes, brown rice and sneaky veg if you have a picky eater.




Turkey Chilli Bowl


  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 450g turkey mince         
  • 1 red capsicum seeded and diced
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • 1 chilli seeded and diced
  • 1 can red kidney beans, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 can chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper depending on how much heat you like
  • 1 Tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Dice onion, capsicum, chilli and mince garlic. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, add oil and heat to medium low, add onions and sauté until soft.
  3. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring often for 2 minutes.
  4. Increase heat to medium or medium high and add turkey mince, cook until browned.
  5. Add diced chilli, capsicum, tomatoes and saute for 1 minute.
  6. Add chicken stock, tomato paste, and apple cider vinegar and stir.
  7. Add in remaining ingredients and stir.
  8. Simmer over medium-low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chilli will thicken. Add a little water if it gets too thick.
  9. Serve chilli topped with shallots, yoghurt, diced avocado, and more diced tomatoes and whole grain rice or quinoa.

Follow Teresa (BMSc Nutrition) @thelmaterese