Foods and techniques which boost our mood and reduce stress this holiday season

By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach

Foods that are high in fibre, such as vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, Omega 3 fatty acids found in, amongst other things, salmon and sardines, good fats in nuts and seeds, and fermented foods with probiotics such as yoghurt, miso, kimchi, and kefir are all thought to improve our mood and reduce stress.

About 90 percent of mood-boosting serotonin receptors in the body are found in the stomach, which means that the food we eat can stimulate serotonin receptors, which affect your mood. It also means that our mood can dictate the type of food we choose or crave.

Researchers have found that people who crave salty snacks crave them out of boredom. It might be worth watching which members of staff regularly head to the vending machine for a bag of chips and give them more to do! Crunchy snacks are craved by people who are angry or frustrated, spicy foods for those seeking excitement or intensity, and sweet foods when they feel joyous or contented.

Interestingly physical hunger, which builds gradually, can be satisfied by any food, while emotional hunger, which comes on suddenly is usually satisfied by specific types of food. It is useful information particularly if you like to stay healthy over the festive season and keep your weight down.

It gives you a tactical advantage if you find yourself craving a crunchy snack. Instead of biting off your husband's head in anger, or diving into a packet of crunchy biscuits you could take yourself off for a quiet 5-minute relaxation practice or go for a walk.

Tips to staying calm this Christmas

  • Stock up on a wide range of fresh and nutritious whole foods, such as fruit and veg, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and oily fish.
  • Rethink whether your hunger is physical or emotional. If it's emotional, find ways to manage the emotion that doesn't involve eating.
  • Be prepared. The early stress of thinking and planning what you need to do before the holiday period is far less than doing nothing and having it all descend on you at one time.
  • Ask for help. Some people are better than others at asking for help, so work on being better at it and share the load.
  • Consciously remind yourself to have a good time!


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