What Foods Can Help Reduce Holiday Stress?

Q: What Foods Can Help Reduce Stress During the Holidays?

A: There is no doubt that during the holiday season, things are crazy, and stress can be high.  The good news is that stress, even during these busy holiday months, is manageable both through lifestyle and diet.  To help reduce stress from Thanksgiving through the New Year, add regular activity to your schedule (even if it’s just 10 minutes here and there throughout the day) and look for foods like these in your refrigerator, on the buffet table and at your favorite restaurants:

  • Spinach, beans, nuts, whole grains – Foods like these are rich in the mineral magnesium, which affects both muscle tension and the heartbeat.  To add these foods to your diet, opt for steamed spinach as a side dish, beans on your salad and whole grain bread options.
  • Sweet potatoes, potatoes, halibut, bananas – Loaded with potassium, these foods can help regulate blood pressure.  Look for baked sweet potatoes at holiday dinners and grilled halibut on the menu, and keep a banana handy for a quick pick-me-up during Christmas shopping.
  • Mozzarella, pumpkin seeds, turkey – Found in foods like these, the essential amino acid tryptophan is a must for feel-good serotonin in the body, promoting relaxation.  Go for the white meat turkey on the buffet and order veggie and mozzarella-topped pizzas for quick and stress-free dinners.
  • Beans, poultry, fish, eggs, dark leafy greens, whole grains – These foods are all great choices for adding B vitamins to your diet.  This family of vitamins plays a key role in the production of both serotonin and dopamine, must-haves for stress reduction.  Start your day with a whole grain, egg-filled breakfast burrito, or order a salad topped with grilled chicken for a healthy lunch.
  • Salmon, flaxseed oil, nuts, seeds – Recent research has shown that omega 3s, found in foods like these, can help boost that feel-good serotonin.  Treat yourself to a tender salmon filet and some down time at your favorite restaurant, and keep a small bag of nuts or seeds with you to help keep cravings and stress at bay.

How do you manage stress during the holidays?  Diet and exercise is a great place to start!

Healthy Dining dietitian picks can help you treat yourself well while managing stress this month and throughout the year!