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Happier Holidays Nutrition


The holidays are likely to bring on some level of stress. And the stress that comes this time of year may be inevitable. However, the food we eat can help reduce the impact of this stress as well as help lift your mood. Be ready this holiday season by stocking your kitchen with some stress reducing foods.

One of the main stressors of the holidays is a busy schedule. At the end of the year, unhealthy dietary choices are often the result of a bustling festive itinerary.  Stressful situations make your body crave sugary and high fat foods that can result in a nutrient poor diet. Which in turn, makes stress worse. With a well balanced diet including mood lifting foods, let diet help reduce and manage any stress this holiday season.

The body responds to stress with a flood of excess hormones. When stress continues and these hormones remain too high for too long it can lead to physical and psychological burden. A healthy diet is one way to help naturally balance these hormones.



Naturally Improve your Stress with Diet by:


  • Stabilizing Blood Pressure
  • Boosting Serotonin Levels
  • Controlling Blood Sugar Level
  • Reducing Stress Hormones


Beneficial nutrients to reduce stress:


Phenylalanine and tyrosine help increase production of antidepressant hormones dopamine and norepinephrine.

Try pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, pistachios, almonds, quinoa, oats, spinach, avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, lima beans, chicken, and salmon.
Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce perceived stress and are a natural anti-depressant.

Try salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index help the body make serotonin and keep blood sugars stable. Consume high fiber carbohydrates to slow absorption for a steady flow of serotonin.

Try quinoa, wild or brown rice, lentils, beans, and berries.
Negative effects of stress hormones are reduced with an increase in vitamin C. Vitamin C improves ability to cope with emotional and physical stress and reduces the main stress hormone, cortisol.

Try bell peppers, guava, kiwi, citrus, and Brussels sprouts.
Magnesium requirements can be increased with physical and psychological stress.

Try pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, black beans, quinoa, almonds, cashews, avocados, and dark chocolate.


Holiday Grocery List: Natural Stress Reducing Foods

Boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, and help alleviate stress with B vitamins, amino acids, and omega-3s with almonds, pistachios, and walnuts.

Improve mood by increasing serotonin, provide an abundance of neurotransmitters, and decrease cortisol through low sugar good quality dark chocolate.

Lower levels of cortisol and feel calmer by drinking green and black tea. Or try chamomile tea to reduce anxiety and improve mood. Aim for two to three cups per day to receive the tranquilizing effects of this hot beverage.

To lower blood pressure, provide vitamin C, and add magnesium to the diet, increase intake of leafy greens and spinach.

Get a good dose of fiber and vitamin C through low glycemic blueberries.

Help fight fatigue, improve absorption of tryptophan, and increase production of serotonin with fiber, vitamin C, and potassium rich bananas.

Don’t forget to hydrate! Keep a reusable water bottle with you while shopping, traveling, cooking, and decorating this holiday season! Maybe even grab a red or green bottle to keep you feeling festive while hydrated!


Holiday Treats

Don’t overdo it on the coffee! Many coffee shops offer such delicious looking, heavily caffeinated coffee beverages during the holiday season. However, too much coffee may induce stress response, boost stress hormones, and cause a rise in blood pressure. Instead of regularly ordering your favorite festive peppermint mocha or eggnog latte, choose a hot cup of green tea, almond milk matcha latte, or spicy chai tea.

Indulging in the occasional holiday treat is important! Enjoying the foods you love during the holidays can bring you much joy! Just remember that regular intake of sugary foods and beverages may worsen any stress, so keep a healthy balance between nutritionally dense foods and holiday sweets!



Winter Warming Chia Puddings

Chai Tea Chia Pudding
1 1/2 cups brewed chai tea
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 tsp maple syrup

Mix brewed tea and chia seeds in a small bowl. Let sit for a couple of minutes and stir again. Cover and refrigerate over night. Enjoy chilled or heat and serve warm.

Green Tea Chia Pudding
1 1/2 cups brewed green tea
1/2 cup raspberries, mashed
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 tsp maple syrup

Mix brewed tea, raspberries, and chia seeds in a small bowl. Let sit for a couple of minutes and stir again. Cover and refrigerate over night. Enjoy chilled or heat and serve warm.

Top with cacao nibs, walnuts, or fresh banana slices.


Tip: If you prefer tea LATTE chia pudding – try using 1 cup brewed tea and 1/2 cup non-dairy milk for the liquid in your recipe.
Aubrey H. Moore, DCN, RDN
Aubrey H. Moore, DCN, RDN

Aubrey Moore is a registered dietitian. She specializes in functional nutrition, providing individualized personal guidance that focuses on whole food as medicine.

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