While the holidays are typically a season of celebration and joy, this time of year may trigger feelings of loneliness, loss or difficult emotions for some. Whether you’re missing your family back home, or are tense after a disagreement with your spouse over holiday budgeting, turning to food for comfort is often accompanied by poor nutritional choices.
So what should you eat when your emotions are eating you?
Contrary to popular belief, not all stress eating is bad for you. In fact, eating the right foods when you’re emotions are running high can actually help calm you down. Try switching your usual comfort foods for these quick and healthy snacks to get you back in the holiday spirit (and to avoid the guilt of overeating):
- Instead of dipping into the cookie jar…go for a handful of almonds.
Almonds contain a winning stress-relief combination: vitamin B12, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc. For those who take to the peanut butter jar with a tablespoon – go for a spoonful of almond butter instead!
- Swap the chips and dip for avocado slices.
If you’re craving something rich and satisfying, go for the “good fat.” The monounsaturated fats and potassium found in avocado can lower blood pressure. Make your own guacamole for a special treat that will have the whole family at peace!
- Meat lover? Try a salmon burger instead of ground beef.
Salmon is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which not only fight heart disease, but can keep cortisol and adrenaline levels in check. What does that mean? You’ll be able to calm down and relax after a stressful event, instead of remaining tense and “wound up.”
- Need something sweet and colorful? Go for a bowl of blueberries and cantaloupe.
Put down the M&Ms! Blueberries and cantaloupe are just as colorful and easy on the eye, and are full of stress-busting antioxidants and Vitamin C.
- Oatmeal is the perfect hearty comfort food.
Carbohydrates trigger the release of serotonin, a mood-boosting hormone. Smart carb choices in moderation are key, which is why a good old-fashioned bowl of oatmeal will do the trick to get you out of your Grinch-like funk, while keeping cravings at bay. The high fiber content will keep you fuller longer. Here’s a tip: instead of buying the flavored oatmeal loaded with sugar, buy plain oatmeal, add some fresh blueberries, and sweeten it to your taste.
Eating the right foods may not get to the cause of your stress, but it will prevent you from dealing with the added stress of trying to lose the extra pounds caused by emotional eating. Take control of your stress eating this holiday season and fuel your body with the right nutrients to keep you cool, calm and collected.
For more tips and strategies visit Navy Nutrition online.