How to lift your mood with food


Jacqueline Alwill

Feeling in need of a pick me up and aren’t quite finding it with your usual kickers? Perhaps you need a little help in the kitchen.

Make mood boosting food

Fuel your body with food rich in essential nutrients to lift energy and mood, those bursting with magnesium, B vitamins, tryptophan and nourishing fats. Up the intake of:

Greens: Wonderful for a variety of reasons but are in particular a lovely source of magnesium, folate and antioxidants to aid the production of energy, help your muscles relax and support brain health and function. Pick up some kale, spinach, broccoli, herbs and beans to up your greens.

Cacao: contains a bounty of nutrients but to really boost your mood mojo lay your hands on the best you can get (think 80% dark or raw chocolate). A high cacao content in your chocolate fix will give your body a hit of tryptophan and magnesium to improve mood. Tryptophan is one of our favourite nutrients for mood, as it supports the production of serotonin and melatonin, essential mood and sleep hormones in the body.

Healthy fats: we find in fatty fish (salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel), avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds will nurture your brain to create powerful, positive thoughts. Aim to choose healthy fats before a quick fix like sugar for longer term healthful happiness.

Two mood boosting recipes

Herbed salmon with cauliflower puree



2 salmon fillets 1 tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil (melted) Large handful mixed herbs such as coriander, basil and parsley, finely chopped 1/2 head cauliflower 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt Pinch dried chilli flakes Good pinch salt


  1. Rub salmon fillets with oil and herbs, until evenly coated, cover and set aside to marinate.
  2. Steam cauliflower approximately 15 minutes, until soft.
  3. Place cauliflower in food processor or use a stick blender in the saucepan, add yoghurt, chilli flakes and salt and blitz until smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.
  4. Heat fry pan on medium heat on stove, add a small drop of oil, then place salmon skin down and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Allow to rest a few minutes before slicing lengthways to show the beautiful contrast of pink salmon with herb crust.
  6. Divide cauliflower puree evenly between two plates, top with salmon and serve with a side of leafy greens or steamed vegetables.

Raw fig, currant and spice chocolate



2/3 cup coconut oil ¾ cup cacao 3 tsp ground cinnamon 1 ½ tsp ground nutmeg 1 tsp ground ginger 2 tbsp pure maple syrup 1 tsp maca ½ cup dried figs, finely sliced ¼ cup currants


  1. Line a 20x20cm cake tin or loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat on the stove and melt.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in cacao, spices, maple and maca.
  4. Pour raw melted spiced chocolate into tin and tip the tin to spread evenly.
  5. Drop currants and figs into the chocolate and place in refrigerator to set for 2 hours or more before serving.

Recipes originally published on Jacqueline’s website, The Brown Paper Bag Co

Create freely

If you’re eating the same food every day, chances are food boredom is dragging you down. This can be a common denominator for those with either a healthy or not-so-healthy approach to diet. There are a few ways you can change this however. Try setting some goals to mix up your meals. If you know your diet isn’t perhaps at its best then a goal for the week such as having one new breakfast option might just help you take a step in the right direction. If you feel diet is on point but you’re still feeling a little down, then grab one new ingredient you’ve never cooked with in the kitchen and challenge yourself with three ways to make the magic happen. It’s guaranteed to help you open up your creative channels and boost your mood.

Eat the colours of the rainbow

The plant rainbow that is. Protein with three veg is a super meal, but try some days of the week to make a beautiful meal or bowl of food for lunch or dinner that resembles a rainbow on your plate. Greens such as kale, spinach, rocket and sprouts as your base and then an assortment of other abundantly coloured vegetables including zucchini noodles, grated carrot, sliced beetroot, steamed broccoli, baked cauliflower, roast sweet potato, fermented veggies, nuts, seeds and avocado to top it, will be a glowing feast of nutrition, colour and fun for your tummy and eyes, not to mention contain lots of wonderful nutrients to energise you.

Take it away from your desk

Is your computer or phone your lunch companion? Do you rationalize, that you’re more productive by not really stopping for lunch but instead, eating while you write emails, read another proposal, or get all your web admin done whilst munching on your salad, yet feel flat an hour later? It doesn’t take much to change the habit here. We are more productive by taking a step away from work, engaging with our food and then returning energised, than the former. When we connect with our food and make time to sit, undistracted by work or technology, chew, rest and digest it, the nutrition is better absorbed in our bodies and utilised to support the production of energy.

Eat with company

Ever noticed how eating with a buddy by your side makes meals so much more enjoyable? A few belly laughs to accompany a meal does wonders to release serotonin, dopamine and uplift your mood. Further, if you’ve been feeling down then the likelihood of using food for emotional comfort is less likely when you have company and can ask for a real cuddle. Aim to lock in some dates with friends to share some delicious nourishing meals together. Our cells respond so wonderfully to happiness around eating nutritious food and fuel your body accordingly.



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