The holidays are usually stressful for moms but without holiday parties, school events, and cookie swaps, getting it all done isn’t the focus this year. Instead, we’re thinking about keeping our families healthy now and into the future. According to a recent survey by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, two-thirds of parents say they worry that the effects of the pandemic on their children’s mental health will be more challenging to recover from as more time goes by. There’s no doubt that the stress we’re facing is heavy, but in addition to healthy habits like getting exercise and prioritizing sleep, one of the ways to combat stress particularly over the holidays is to focus on consuming stress-busting foods.
HOLIDAY FOODS THAT REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY
There’s no getting around all that carb-heavy, fat-laden, fried, and sugar-filled fare over the holidays, but you can also stock up on foods that combat holiday stress, ease anxiety, and leave you feeling refreshed by the new year. Here are 8.
Oranges and other foods that are high in vitamin C may help combat stress.
In fact, according to a 2015 study in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, high school students who were given a vitamin C supplement experienced less anxiety and had a reduction in heart rate.
Oranges are also a great food to help satisfy your sugar cravings without the calories and added sugars of Christmas cookies, cakes, and desserts.
Related: What Are Added Sugars?
Refined carbohydrates like those in holiday treats can spike blood sugar, deplete your energy levels, and make you feel irritable.
Quinoa (a seed), is a good source of fiber and a complete protein, which means it has all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own.
The combination of protein and fiber also keeps blood sugar and energy levels stable. Quinoa is also a gluten-free grain and cooks within minutes.
The sun sets early this time of year and with the winter solstice—the shortest day of the year—on December 21, your vitamin D levels may be low which studies show, are linked to anxiety.
Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D3—one large egg has about 40IUs— and they’re also a versatile food any time of day.
4. BLACK TEA
There’s nothing better than relaxing with a hot cup of tea after a long stressful day and black tea, in particular, may affect your stress levels.
In fact, according to a January 2007 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, people who drank black tea for 6 weeks had lower levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—than the placebo group.
I usually have a cup of PG Tips, in the afternoon, which gives me a quick pick-me-up without too much caffeine.
Not only are pistachios an excellent source of protein, which balances blood sugar and prevents you from overindulging in sugary treats, but consuming them may help you better cope with stress this holiday season.
According to a 2014 study out of Penn State, people with type-2 diabetes who eat pistachios may find that doing so reduces their body’s response to stress.
6. KIDNEY BEANS
Nearly half of Americans do not get the recommended amount of magnesium, an essential mineral, in their diets, according to a March 2012 study in Nutrition Reviews.
Yet magnesium is well-known for its calming properties and getting adequate amounts has been shown to have a positive effect on stress, one study found.
Kidney beans are an excellent source of magnesium— 85 mg in a 1/2 cup.
Other foods high in magnesium include avocado, brown rice, cashews, edamame, and oatmeal.
Not only are lentils are a good source of protein and fiber which promotes satiety and keeps blood sugar levels stable, but they also have 90 percent of the daily value for folate, a B vitamin which helps make serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, all neurotransmitters that regulate mood.
Other folate-rich foods include chickpeas, spinach, asparagus, and broccoli.
Experts say approximately 90 percent of serotonin is actually made in the gut so by giving your gut health a boost, you can help your brain and stress levels too.
Eating probiotic-rich foods like Kefir can help boost the healthy bacteria in the gut and in turn, keep stress at bay.
In fact, a May 2013 study out of UCLA found women who ate yogurt with probiotics had less activity in the area of the brain associated with emotion.
Related: 10 Foods High In Probiotics for Kids