Mental Wellbeing Diet - Lucy Barrett

The key neurotransmitters involved in feeling well, content and joyful are serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. While the balance of our brain chemicals is a complex process, our lifestyles and diet have a direct effect on how well we feel. Being mindful of our gastrointestinal health and the nutrient content of our foods may be helpful to balance our mind and neurotransmitters.

Serotonin can be synthesised from the amino acid Tryptophan. Other key nutrients are for neurotransmitter synthesis and nervous system support are Magnesium, B3, B6, Tyrosine, Zinc and Theanine. Many of the foods listed below will not only be high in Tryptophan and Magnesium but these other important nutrients. Nature is wonderful for packaging things so nicely for us!

Decreasing sugar and coffee will is also recommended.


·       Eggs (yolk and white)

·       Ripe Bananas

·       Grass fed red meats – lamb, goat, vension, wallaby, chicken, turkey

·       Soy – Tofu, Tempeh, Milk

·       Nuts : Almonds, Cashew, Walnut, Brazil nut, Hazelnut, Pistachio

·       Seeds: Chia, flax/linseed, pepitas, sunflower seed, sesame (tahini paste)

The tryptophan found in foods will be best absorbed and utilised by the brain when eaten with a healthy carbohydrate. Balance these foods with some sweet potato, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, or other wholegrains of choice.

Recipe Ideas:

·       Egg frittata with mixed vegetables and sesame seed topping

·       Chia pudding

·       Tofu or tempeh stirfy with basmati or brown rice

·       Nut butter (finely ground nuts, add oil to loosen if necessary) on fruit, crackers or suitable bread

·       Protein Balls – Nut of choice, tahini, sweetener (maple, dates, rice malt syrup). Roll in coconut, sesame and add other flavourings like cacao, cinnamon, honey, vanilla as suitable.

·       Buckwheat Banana Bread

·       Banana smoothie with flaxmeal

·       Warm turmeric chai made with organic Australian soymilk

·       Tofu nut roast


·       Dark leafy greens – lightly cooked Spinach, Kale, Chard

·       Nuts and seeds – particularly unhulled sesames and tahini paste & pepitas/pumpkin seeds

·       Black Beans

·       Raw Cacao

·       Dairy Yoghurt

·       Sulphur-free dried fruit – apricot, peach, date, raisins

Recipe Ideas:

·       Black bean coconut milk curry with dark greens, potato and currants

·       Raw cacao (1 Tbsp) mixed into yoghurt

·       Chia pudding with cacao

·       Bean dip with tahini and lemon juice