The holidays are known as the most wonderful time of year! They are also known for bursting schedules and lots of overwhelm. Combine this with the shorter days and it can be a recipe for the most stressful time of year. Luckily there are some seasonal foods that are packed full of specific brain nutrients that help manage stress and boost your mood.
This week I joined my friends at CBS to talk about the best way to eat to beat holiday stress!
Brazil nuts are high in a micro-nutrient called selenium. Low levels of selenium have been correlated with anxiety and depression. Too much selenium can have negative effects as well, so it is one of those nutrients that is best gotten from food. You can get the RDA of selenium by eating as little as 3 Brazil nuts per day.
Salmon and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that people with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood streams are more agreeable and have a better sense of well-being. They actually change the way your brain functions (in a good way!). Consistency is key so shoot for fish 2-3 times per week. If you aren’t a fan of fish, walnuts and flax-seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Carbohydrates help increase the brain’s production of the “feel good” neurotransmitter serotonin. This can help you feel less anxious and have a calmer state of mind. Choosing carbohydrates that are low glycemic and high fiber also helps keep your blood sugar stable and your mood stable as well (i.e. no hangry!). They are best post-workout or in the evening when our moods tend to drop.
Banana & Cashews
This combination is often called natures anti-depressant because it contains high levels of the amino acid tryptophan. This is why you feel warm and fuzzy after thanksgiving dinner. Tryptophan breaks down to the feel good neurotransmitter serotonin. A banana and 1/4 cup of cashews is a great holiday (or any day) snack!
This one is a little surprising but oysters contain a micronutrient called zinc. Zinc helps our brains fight off stress and is essential to the part of the brain that regulates mood.
3 foods that Dampen Mood
Sugar, Alcohol & Caffeine
I’m not saying that you need to cut these things out during the holiday season (I’m sure not going to) but they are typically what we turn to, to improve our mood. Unfortunately they actually do the opposite. So by all means enjoy some holiday treats, but if you are feeling down or struggling with stress start with the mood boosting food and save the wine for when you are feeling better!