Holidays holidays holidays! They bring so much excitement, yet somehow they bring a wealth of panic, dismay and stress. With emotions higher than normal, and family minefields to navigate, it's no wonder we reach for the cookie jar to get through the holidays! Instead of using food as a coping mechanism, honor your body by supporting your emotions in a healthy way with these 10 Foods To Calm Holiday Stress.
This list of 10 foods will help your body and brain feel more focused, calmer, and resilient to get through this holiday season. They're good for calming anxiety, uncertainty and stress!
10 Foods To Calm Holiday Stress
Staying hydrated is a challenge in the winter because we're all cold. But guess what? Our bodies need water year round and your brain works better and your nervous system is more calm when you’re hydrated. Anxiety can be a result of a family visiting, but it can also be dehydration. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere so you can monitor your hydration and stay well lit!
Ok, so greens aren't my favorite food group either especially during the winter, but did you know leafy greens can help you sleep better? They're rich in folate which help the body produce mood regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. A well rested body equals a less stressed body! Those greens though, they're also a good source of fiber which can help keep the digestive system, easily rocked by stress, on track.
Going green? Go for kale, collard greens, bok chop, etc. Sorry, iceberg doesn't count! Look for ways to add them that isn't in salad form. Toss them in an egg bake, smoothie, casserole, spaghetti, or roast them for a quick healthy snack!
Replace stress inducing caffeine with chamomile tea! Yes, caffeine contributes to stress and WEIGHT GAIN. Chamomile is a great alternative for calming the body, easing muscle spasms and supporting the entire nervous system.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid required for the body to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that promotes happiness and relaxation. If you're having trouble sleeping or suffering from anxiety, you may be deficient in tryptophan rich foods.
The real secret to improve your mood is in your gut. The digestive system is the gateway to the body and when it is weak, the immune system becomes stressed trying to protect the body. The digestive systems also produces most of the body's serotonin, that happiness neurotransmitter.
An unhealthy gut flora, produced by stress, poor diet and too much sugar, can have a negative impact on brain health leading to anxiety and depression. Good gut bacteria found in fermented foods have a direct impact on brain chemistry, transmitting mood and behavior that regulate signals to the brain. Yogurt with active live cultures, kombucha, sauerkraut, heifer, miso soup, kimchi, raw pickles are examples of fermented foods.
High in healthy fat, coconut oil is soothing and satiating to the stomach, is healthy fuel for the brain, helps the thyroid and with overall hormone production. When you buy, look for cold pressed virgin coconut oil.
Naturally sweet, dense and comforting, these spuds are calming for an upset stomach without spiking blood sugar. They also contain resistant starch, a type of starch the body cannot break down and digest, that gut bacteria feed on. Again, promoting good gut health which is often weakened by stress! Roast two or three sweet potatoes and store the extra in the fridge to toss on salads or warm up for an easy dinner side. Use leftovers to make Tahini Maple Butternut Sweet Potato Mash or Sweet Potato Hummus!
Cold water fish such as salmon, cod and haddock play a big role in reducing inflammation as well as your emotional well being. One study in Brain Behavior and Immunity showed a 20% reduction in anxiety among medical students taking omega-3. Don't like fish? Take a fish oil supplement instead!
I'm sure I don't have to convince you that much to eat chocolate, but just in case you're not convinced yet, chocolate is a proven mood elevator. It has anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced by the brain that temporarily blocks pain and depression. Choose a dark chocolate with 85% chocolate, but be careful to not to go overboard on the good stuff.
Almost every Americans is now deficient in this vital vitamin due to our glued to the screen lifestyle. Vitamin D helps the body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that supports mood. Low levels of this vitamin, is associated with anxiety and depression.
The best form of vitamin D is manufactured in the body after being absorbed through the skin from the sun. However, if your sunshine time is limited, foods like salmon, eggs, sardines, mackerel and milk are good ways of getting the vitamin.
Alternatively, a supplement can be taken. However, Vitamin D should be taken with other vitamins and minerals for proper absorption. Certain foods and other vitamins and minerals can also reduce its absorption. Working with a health coach can help you determine how to fit this key vitamin into your diet for optimal absorption.