Fight Holiday Stress with Stress-Busting Foods

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From houseguests and parties to shopping and cooking, the holidays can serve up a jumbo portion of stress. Fight back with foods that soothe the nerves and offer a sense of calm.

We all have certain foods that just make us feel good

The holidays are meant to be a joyful time of celebration with family and friends. But often, all that celebrating – and the work it entails behind the scenes – can lead to some serious holiday stress.

According to nutrition expert Gloria Tsang, founder of, foods can be used to calm the nerves, rather than resorting to popping a pill, or trying to cram "relaxing" activities into an already over-packed schedule. "We all have certain foods that just make us feel good," Tsang says. "But there are also foods that really do have calming properties based on how their specific nutrients are used by the body."

Here are's top 5 recommended foods to calm those frazzled holiday nerves:

  • Whole-grain pasta/popcorn: These good carbs can boost serotonin (the "feel-good" brain chemical) to help reduce stress. Use whole grains to give your favorite comfort-food pasta an extra serving of soothe.
  • Tea: Just holding a warm mug can calm us down, but not if it's full of caffeine. Green, white, and black tea have half of coffee's caffeine, and are loaded with beneficial flavonoid compounds, too.
  • Dark green vegetables: Vegetables like broccoli, kale, chard, bok choy, and green beans contain high levels of B vitamins, a group of stress-relieving vitamins that can also help address anxiety and depression.
  • Nuts and seeds: The protein in nuts and seeds can take the edge off gnawing afternoon hunger that may itself be stressing you out. Plus, they contain high levels of B vitamins, and magnesium – another mineral involved in serotonin production. Stick to 1.5 oz or less per day, though, as these stress-relievers are high in calories.
  • Citrus fruits: Winter fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and kiwis are all excellent sources of Vitamin C – a potent stress-busting vitamin. Plus, the Vitamin C found in citrus fruits is involved in the production of collagen, which helps keep your skin firm and reduces wrinkling, to help you hide the effects of stress on your skin.

With so many extra tasks to take care of – from holiday shopping to preparing that big holiday meal – the holidays can be a surprisingly stressful time. By adding these top stress-busting foods to your diet, you can calm your nerves and reduce your stress levels without having to pop a pill. That should help keep your holidays merry and bright. More healthy eating tips from registered dietitians are available at, an official USDA MyPyramid Partner.

About is the most comprehensive nutrition community run by Registered Dietitians on the web. The dietitians at have been sharing their passion for nutrition and health since 1997. For fun and practical healthy eating tips, exclusive nutrition guides, and nutrition podcasts, visit


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Tracey Johnston
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