4 Soothing Foods For Holiday Stress

There’s probably not much you can do to avoid some what stressful holiday necessities, like the office holiday gathering or your in-laws’ Christmas Eve dinner, but fortunately there are some very easy ways to help manage your stress through soothing food. After all, you have to eat three times a day anyway. Might as well make it count! The following foods have been linked to stress reduction, and we’ve devised some healthy, delicious ways to easily incorporate them into your diet.

Green Leafy Veggies

Don’t think you could possibly love greens any more than you already do? This may take your appreciation for them to a whole new level. Greens contain lots of folate, which leads to the production of dopamine (a.k.a. the feel-good hormone) in the brain. So the bottom line: Be happy and gorge on greens!

One of the tastiest ways to eat a mess of greens is to sauté them with onion and garlic—it’s simple, tasty, and really quick. Throw those cooked greens onto some brown rice or quinoa, add a protein such as beans or chick’n, and garnish with a little toasted sesame oil or even a scoop of kimchi. Yes, healthy and delicious can be that easy.

If you’re not tired of avocado toast (is that even possible?), you’re probably excited to see this one make the list. Chock full of good fats, B vitamins, and folate, avocados pack a nutritional punch. They’re also filling to help keep you satiated longer, so adding some avocado to your lunchtime routine can prevent stress munchies in the afternoon.

Avocados are your salad’s soul mate, your sandwich’s sidekick, and your corn chip’s companion. But don’t stop there. Avocados are the perfect addition to top your veggie burger. They also add richness and flavor to spring rolls. Pro Tip: If you’re making tacos, throw an avocado in the food processor or blender, add juice of a lime, a pinch of sea salt, a garlic clove, and just enough water to make a creamy sauce.

Is it possible to be sad when eating blueberries? Turns out those roly poly, sapphire blue fruits are not only adorable, but they’re packed with vitamin C and antioxidants that help your body fight stress and disease. Their nutritional prowess has made them the darlings of superfood aficionados everywhere, but they also happen to be downright delicious.

Blueberries are made for breakfast. Buy them frozen and use in smoothies with almond milk and ground flaxseeds. Throw some on your bowl of oatmeal. Or whip up something a little more special that you can take on the go. For an extra comforting winter breakfast, cook quinoa with almond milk and cinnamon, adding a handful of blueberries at the beginning of cooking. When cooked, drizzle some maple syrup over the quinoa and sprinkle with almonds or walnuts. Turns out healthy comfort food isn’t an oxymoron after all!

You probably know oatmeal as that heart-healthy breakfast staple that’s, well, just a bit boring. As it turns out, oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate, and eating it can promote the production of serotonin, helping you fight stress. Not to mention the fact that eating a warm bowl of comfort first thing in the morning can warm you up from head to toe, leaving you ready to take on the cold world outside.

Oatmeal and blueberries are a perfect pairing, but if you’re looking for something a little more creative, try making savory oatmeal. Take a cue from congee, the savory rice porridge often eaten for breakfast in many Asian countries. Sauté green onion, garlic, and a handful of spinach, then add oats, vegetable broth, and tamari, and cook until very creamy. Top with sriracha or chili sauce if you like it spicy, and throw on some crisp-cooked coconut curry tempeh strips for protein.

Feel better already? You may not be able to take it completely easy this holiday season, but you can at least take charge of what you eat. So dig in and enjoy the immediate benefits of eating tasty, healthy food that’s good for everyone—the planet, the animals, and, not least of all, you.