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Foods That Boost Mood and Fight Holiday Weight Gain

Don’t let stress and bad moods bring you down this holiday season.

Fight Holiday Weight Gain

It's easy to feel overwhelmed during the holiday season -- what with shopping, parties, decorating, baking, and the inevitable stress of unwanted obligations. But a healthy diet not only helps boost your mood, it also helps you fight holiday weight gain. Try these tips to get through the holiday season in a good mood without gaining weight: 

  • Eat breakfast! If you skip it, what you eat for the rest of the day won't matter, Somer says. Breakfast-eaters report maintaining a better mood and more energy throughout the day, studies show. 
  • Drink water. "The first symptom of dehydration is fatigue," says Somer. If you're dragging your feet, don't dig in the holiday treats you've been baking. Instead, down a glass or two of water; then see if you're still hungry. Not drinking enough water is the first thing that will impact your mood, Kleiner tells WebMD. "Without it, you won't be able to exercise at peak levels, and you won't burn fat as readily.” 
  • Drink nonfat milk. "It has the tryptophan you need for your brain, plus the natural carbohydrate that assists its transport," Kleiner says. "It's also a fabulous energy drink, and an excellent way to rehydrate both before and after exercise." 
  • Hit your usual holiday parties, but avoid alcohol. You may feel relaxed in the short term, but drinking interrupts sleep and increases depression and anxiety -- not the best way to boost your mood. 
  • Lose the bowls of high-fat foods like chocolate, and replace them with small low-fat crackers, popcorn, pretzels, and hard candy.

Fall and winter tend to increase carbohydrate cravings. “Instead of trying to ignore them or reaching for chocolate, cookies or ice cream, plan portion-controlled carb snacks at least once or twice a day, such as 3/4 cup of crunchy cereal,” Wurtman says. They'll help keep your mood even and your waistline small.

Reap the Rewards

"Alter your eating habits, and you'll notice a change within just two weeks," Somer says. "Your body will reward you with more energy, and your mind with a calmer, positive, more stable mood."

During the stress-filled holiday season, who could ask for more?

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Reviewed on September 30, 2008

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