Fight Holiday Stress with Stress-Busting Foods

Gloria Tsang new3

The holidays are meant to be a joyful time of celebration with family and friends. But often, all that celebrating – and the work it entails behind the scenes – can lead to some serious holiday stress. From house guests and parties to shopping and cooking, the holidays can serve up a jumbo portion of stress. Fight back with foods that soothe the nerves and offer a sense of calmness.

Here are 5 recommended foods to calm those frazzled holiday nerves:

  1. Whole-Grain Pasta, Popcorn, and Lentils There’s a reason you crave carbs when you’re stressed. Stress not only raises free radicals in our body, it can also increase insulin and blood pressure levels. Good carbs can boost serotonin (the “feel-good” brain chemical) to help reduce stress. Serotonin is indeed a good thing when our body is stressed but bad carbs (otherwise known as high glycemic carbohydrates) can cause serotonin levels to spike. This long term elevation of serotonin actually has a negative effect on our body and can lead to depression, anxiety and even insomnia. So choose good carbs (low glycemic carbs) like whole grain pasta, popcorn, and lentils to give your favourite comfort-food an extra serving of soothe. Try this Sweet Potato & Curried Red Lentil Pizza as an appie this holiday season!
  2. Tea Just holding a warm mug can calm us down, but not if it’s full of caffeine. Green, white, and black teas have half the caffeine of coffee, and are loaded with beneficial flavonoid compounds, too. Traditionally, tea is used by many cultures for relaxation and enjoyment. Enjoy a cup (or two) this holiday season!
  3. Dark Green Vegetables Vegetables like broccoli, kale, chard, bok choy, and green beans contain high levels of B vitamins, a group of stress-relieving vitamins that can also help address anxiety and depression. Here is a recipe for Mashed Potatoes with Red Lentils & Kale that not only tastes great and contains dark green veggies, but it will also keep everyone calm during the stressful holiday season.
  4. Protein & Fiber to the Rescue Protein and fiber in general can take the edge off gnawing afternoon hunger that may itself be stressing you out. And the best strategy is to combine whole grains with lentils. By doing this, you actually get the same quality protein as meat! And you also get the added benefit that just ½ a cup of lentils provides you with up to 80% of your daily fiber requirement to help you lower cholesterol and protect against diabetes. Make sure you eat enough protein, here is an easy-to-make Lentil & Quinoa Salad to help.
  5. Citrus Fruits Winter fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and kiwi are all excellent sources of Vitamin C – a potent stress-busting vitamin. Plus, the Vitamin C found in citrus fruits is involved in the production of collagen, which helps keep your skin firm and reduces wrinkling, to help you hide the effects of stress on your skin. Talk about double duty!

With so many extra tasks to take care of – from shopping to preparing that big holiday meal – the holidays can be a surprisingly stressful time. By adding these top stress-busting foods to your diet, you can calm your nerves and reduce your stress levels without having to pop a pill. That should help keep your holidays merry and bright.