Nutritional Training to Beat Holiday Stress
Follow this food plan to celebrate in good cheer.
Let's face it, the holidays are stressful. With all the demands
we place on ourselves during the holidays -- endless festivities, shopping,
entertaining, decorating, family gatherings -- it's no wonder we feel
exhausted. And every year we promise to do better, but we don't. So what to
How about a little pre-holiday nutritional training?
Yes, you can fight stress with food -- just as food can cause
stress. Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which raises blood sugar levels.
That's great if you're fleeing a saber-toothed tiger, but too much cortisol on
a regular basis gives you that achy, irritable, screamy feeling. This can lead
to pie and eggnog abuse at the buffet table, and those fats and sugars you
gobble can lead to more stress on the body. It's a damaging cycle that sends
your liver and gallbladder into overtime, and socks away unburned fat in funny
little pudges around your middle.
"Food is often used to remove stress, yet more often, it
creates it," says Roberta L. Duyff, RD, a food and nutrition consultant and
author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition
Obviously, you'll feast occasionally during the holidays, but
you'll feel calmer if you create an anti-stress diet routine for the times in
between. Remember, the key to avoiding stress is to anticipate it and counter
it going into the holiday season. Ready? Begin by posting this training plan on
your refrigerator door:
Stock Your Training Table
- To keep calming brain chemicals such as serotonin on an even keel, eat
colorful foods full of vitamins, suggests Bruce S. McEwen, PhD, head of the
Laboratory of Endocrinology at Rockefeller University in New York. Look for
red, green, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables -- melon, berries,
peppers, and winter squash.
- Make sure you get some protein, preferably from rich fish chock full of
omega-3 oil. Salmon and caviar are loaded with it.
- Stick with whole grain breads, crackers, and pastas. Load up on
- Always have a bottle of water at hand.
When you're the last one standing after that shopping marathon,
you can attribute it to your nutritional training regime. For inspiration,
check out this menu plan:
Breakfast for Improved Mood and Memory
Whole grain waffle with almond butter
Vitamin C -- citrus juice
Oatmeal with banana and skim milk
Slice of multigrain toast
Green tea or even a cup of coffee (we won't tell)
Half a bagel with peanut butter
A no-fat yogurt, preferably plain with berries you toss in
Lunch to Keep You Calm
Big salad with dressing on the side (dip each bite, don't dump on
Hummus on a pita
Veggie wrap with plenty of leftover turkey
Some lightly salted edamame (soybeans)
Two mini-rice cakes with cottage cheese and a sprinkle of crab seasoning
Handful of walnuts