BLOG: Stress and excitement over the holidays, create a season that is far from the most wonderful time of the year for dietary habits. Between decking the halls, wrapping gifts and finding time to do it all, many turn to food to beat the stress. Unfortunately stress eating can add guilt, which only complicates emotions. Instead of falling into dietary traps, check out the tips below:
Stress Eating Tips:
- Pre-portion items: Divide that bag of snack food into smaller plastic bags using the serving size listed on the nutrition facts panel. This will prevent you from eating the whole bag in a moment of panic!
- Stay hydrated. Thirst and hunger are closely related; without enough water your brain may actually get the wrong message and seek out food.
- Eat foods rich in protein to keep you full longer as start your busy day. And don’t allow yourself to get hungry; you are less likely to make healthy choices when your stomach is growling!
And did you know there are also nutrients that can help you feel less stressed? Protein, B vitamins and magnesium work together to fight stress and keep you energized:
Protein: Aside from keeping you full, protein is also a source of serotonin. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, appetite and sleep, is an important factor in managing stress. Meat, fish, eggs, dairy and nuts are the best sources of serotonin-rich protein.
B Vitamins: The body needs B vitamins in order to process and utilize the serotonin found in protein. Sometimes referred to as “anti-stress” nutrients, the B vitamins play a large role in stabilizing mood and memory. B vitamins are used up quickly this time of year; look for them in dairy foods, eggs, cereals and other whole grains, as well as in meat and nuts.
Magnesium: This essential mineral activates B vitamins and begins the process of utilizing serotonin. Magnesium also works to relax muscles and nerves, and in turn, reducing stress. Inadequate magnesium consumption is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the American diet; fill up on milk, beans, whole grains and peanuts to keep you calm.
The best characteristic about this trio of nutrients is that they are often bundled together in foods. For example, one cup of milk will provide all three. And because Stewart’s milk is guaranteed fresh, it contains more B vitamins and magnesium than other, ultra-pasteurized brands. Your local Stewart’s Shop is also filled with other stress-fighting foods, such as farm-fresh eggs, whole grain cereals and nuts found in Stewart’s Car Cups. The best part: you can avoid the stress of lines at the grocery store! Stop into your local Stewart’s Shop today and do something healthy for your mind and body!
-Christine Sloat MS, RD, CDN
About Christine: Christine Sloat is a Registered Dietitian and life-long resident of upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics from the University of Delaware, and a Master’s of Science in Applied Nutrition from The Sage Colleges in Troy. She has a nutrition consulting business, Nutritious Notions LLC.