top of page

10 Healthy Foods to Reduce Holiday Stress

The holidays are exciting – and exasperating. I spoke with my mom this afternoon and she burst into tears because of her anxiety level around getting ready for the holidays.

Do you feel that way too?

Do the fast-approaching festivities cause you to fret about what to cook, what to buy, how many are coming over, do I have enough food (always), and a myriad of other details that stack up and raise your stress levels. Do you worry about entertaining, cooking, baking, buying, and family dynamics (you know, who is not talking to who)?

Although the end of the year usually means presents, special foods and spending time with our loved ones, it can also be a time of great stress and even depression for many. Even children can suffer during the holidays from just too much activity, travel, and sweets all jam-packed into the season.

It can be particularly difficult if we have lost a spouse, parent or long-time friend.

And when we compare our experience with others (I am looking at you, social media) we can feel everybody else is having sooooooooo much fun. Why don’t I feel good?

Do you recognize any of these symptoms as we are nearing Thanksgiving?

  • anxiety

  • sadness

  • headaches

  • body aches

  • inability to sleep

  • irritability

What can we do about it?

First thing, acknowledge it is okay to feel as you do. No one else has your experience. It is unique to you and perfectly okay to not feel okay. Don’t let anyone tell you to just “suck it up” and be happy. If you don’t feel upbeat, own it. Know it is not forever, and for goodness sake, be kind to yourself.

Second, support yourself with healthy foods that naturally calm and de-stress, such as:

#10: Tulsi Tea (holy basil)

A tea made from the leaves of the holy basil plant, known to keep cortisol levels in check.

#9: Turmeric

Curcumin is the special ingredient in this spice, which helps combat inflammation and helps maintain liver health

#8: Sardines (recipe)

Omega-3s, baby! These little fatty fish are full of them and because they are small, you don't need to be concerned about mercury levels.

#7: Parsley

Rich in stress-reducing flavonoids, this herb can be added to smoothies, salads, sauces, and stir-frys

#6: Extra Virgin Olive Oil (recipe)

The polyphenols in EVOO helps combat inflammation, which is exacerbated by stress

#5: Swiss chard

It's loaded with magnesium, the "anti-stress mineral", as is any leafy green, and can naturally soothe the nerves

#4: Mushrooms

Stress reduces our vitamin C, which mushrooms can replenish, and further support your immune system

#3: Pumpkin seeds

Rich in zinc, which helps the body manage stress, balance mood and support the immune system. Besides, these are great sprinkled on top of salad. I just indulged myself tonight. Give it a try!

#2: Asparagus

Besides being loaded with antioxidants, asparagus contains tryptophan, which calms anxiety attacks

#1: Turkey

Contains l-trytophan, the amino acid that helps produce serotonin, the "feel good" hormone. Again, I just had some turkey for dinner tonight. It's not just for Thanksgiving, you know.

So, there you have it. Add or maintain these foods in your daily routine this week and next and it will help to keep you sane during the holidays.

Here is a recipe that is quick, easy, delicious and incorporates calming whole foods in one meal!

Recipe: Pasta de Sardines


  • 8 oz pasta (I like fettucine) - cook per package instructions


  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 lemon, juiced (vitamin C)

  • 1 3.75 oz can sardines, in tomato sauce

  • red pepper flakes - to taste

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for about 8 minutes, or until almost tender.

While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for a few minutes until soft, then add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Stir in the sardines with their sauce. When the sardines heat through, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the pasta is ready.

When the pasta is almost done, drain, and add it to the sardine sauce. Stir, cover, and turn the heat off. Let stand for a few minutes to absorb the flavors of the sauce. Squeeze juice from the lemon over the pasta. Divide onto serving plates, and top with red pepper flakes and grated Parmesan cheese.


And for more support, check out my upcoming webinars on gut health and self-care as we (w)ring out 2021.

17 views0 comments


bottom of page