Sure, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but the holidays can be stressful. Poor diet, lack of exercise and emotional tensions can make even the happiest holiday busy bees susceptible to winter-time mood swings. An abundance of decadent desserts and cocktails compound the problem by adding calories and depleting energy. LIVESTRONG.COM has a list of mood-boosting foods to help increase seasonal joy without adding pounds:
1. Low-Sodium, High-Potassium Foods: Studies have proven that diets high in potassium and low in sodium are associated with less depression and tension and can also boost energy. Potassium-rich foods include seasonal fare such as yams, apple juice, dates, figs, winter squash, romaine lettuce, avocados and oranges.
2. Proteins and Amino Acids: High protein foods metabolize slowly, making them less likely to cause fluctuations in blood sugar that result in irritability and hunger. Many healthy, high-protein foods such as turkey and chicken breast, lamb, salmon, whole eggs and tofu are rich sources of tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted to happiness-inducing chemical serotonin. Other holiday foods that are high in tryptophan include cremini mushrooms, turnip greens, Swiss chard, spinach and lima beans.
3. Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are vital to brain function, which enable us to stay level-headed during the holidays. Remember that homemade foods are healthier, as commercially prepared foods are often packed with partially hydrogenated oils, a source of trans fatty acids. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are better choices: walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, spirulina and cold water fish are great options.
4. Molybdenum: This toxin-fighting mineral helps regulate breathing and heartbeat by aiding in the transfer of oxygen throughout your body, resulting in clearer thinking, which is essential with parties to attend and travels to plan. Foods with a high content of molybdenum include dried beans, brown rice and dark green vegetables.
5. Whole Grains: Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, are high in insoluble fiber, and thus take longer to digest and maintain your blood sugar levels. While white bread, white potatoes and sugary foods increase blood sugar, whole grain carbohydrates do the opposite, helping you avoid the rise and fall often experienced with sugar and white flour.