Food has the ability to impact our emotional and mental well-being in a variety of ways. Whether it is seeking “comfort food” when you’ve had a bad day or cooking to relieve stress, food and our eating habits really do affect our mood.

Back by popular demand, YFM ran its Food For Every Mood event in partnership with Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre and City of Melbourne for Mental Health Week 2019. Through our interactive workshop, Melbournians learned about a few ways that food is connected to emotional and mental health, and they were left equipped to more effectively utilise the relationship between food and your mental health.


Using the themes CREATE, EAT, SHARE, and GROW, the people of Melbourne spent their Wednesday evening exploring a variety of ways in which food could positively affect mental wellbeing. Our aim was to share a variety of tools which can positively influence a person’s mood – such as how to create cultures to nourish gut bacteria, eat veggies for breakfast, share rainbow salads with others, and grow edible plants – and subsequently their mental health.


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Now, a YFM event isn’t anything without food, so we were ecstatic to have the Social Food Project ‘grazing’ us with their presence once again! They provided an amazing spread that was fit for a king, with a focus on foods to nourish everyone’s fabulous gut bacteria as well as visual senses (see above image for a mouth-watering tease of the food that was on offer). Social Food Project also donated a stellar raffle prize of $50 off their much anticipated Social Wine Project, which we are most grateful for!

And to top it all off, Daniel So, from Monash University’s very own FODMAP Team, graced us with a special appearance. Daniel spoke about their groundbreaking research into gut health and the links between your gut and brain, which ultimately affect your mental wellbeing.


The event featured stations where participants learned about different foods and activities around food which could impact their mood.

CREATE workstation

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Brought to us by the fabulous Alda Balthrop-Lewis, we learnt how the fermented properties of sourdough could improve our gut flora, with strong links to improved mental health. We even had a chance to take home our very own starter cultures!

Our takeaway message: to care for something living, such as a sourdough starter, is extremely powerful in establishing a positive mental attitude in your day-to-day life. Combined with the tactile behaviour of making bread and sharing it with others, we reckon sourdough bread is one of the most successful ways to improve your mental health.

For more information on caring for and troubleshooting your sourdough starter, here are some bready useful links:

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EAT workstation

Designed and run by YFM’s very own Makie Fuse and Maria Echavarria, here attendees discovered the importance of taking time to prepare, eat, and appreciate a meal at the beginning of the day. There were also some useful tips on the holistic aspects of having enough sleep, breathing deeply once in a while, and eating a rainbow of colours for each meal.

Find out more about this theme in Makie’s fantastic article ‘Hangry? 4 Tasty Tips to Improve Your Mood!’ and learn how to incorporate more vegetables in your first meal of the day with this Carrot Cake Oats recipe!

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SHARE workstation

Run by Oliva Groundwater and Jasmine Batchelor, this station enticed its audience to experiment with exciting ways to glitz up their sorry lettuce-and-tomato salad with a rainbow of food types – perfect for sharing at a pot-luck dinner with friends! But the key wasn’t just to spruce up the look of the dish. It’s to glitz up the gut bacteria’s diet in our intestines with a variety of nourishing nutrients to directly impact their mental wellbeing.

Find out how to make your salads more nutritious and varied with this exotic Crunchy Thai Slaw Salad recipe and this rainbow extravaganza of a Powerhouse Salad dish, created by these two lovely YFM volunteers!

GROW workstation

And finally, as one of our very special guest speakers at the event, Penny Woodward (Horticultural Editor of the Organic Gardener Magazine) got down and dirty with our audience as she shared her pearls of wisdom on how to:

  • grow bean sprouts in a jar
  • sow a dense and nutritious variety of microgreens
  • re-use sprouting garlic and spring onions
  • use the phytochemical properties of plants and the health benefits of growing pot herbs for herbal teas!

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And if this wasn’t enough, our captivated audience was rewarded for their interest with a packet of bean sprouts to take home from The Diggers Club!

Read these fool-proof tips by Penny to learn how to successfully grow herbs in a pot. To find out more about what she’s up to and to purchase one of her fabulous books, visit Penny’s website.

Food For Every Mood was sponsored by Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre and City of Melbourne. Check out the original event page here. Image credits (top to bottom): Julia Lee (#1-2), Geoffroy Bondel, Josie Andrews (#4-6).

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Josie Andrews