Nutrition tips to suppress holiday stress


’Tis the season to be stressed out. Choosing foods that are “whole” in nature, and reducing your intake of highly processed foods will not only provide your body with the nutrition and energy it desires, but they can also help to reduce stress. Here are a few reasons why:

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help fight off free radicals in the body that cause stress and illness. Try to make half of your meals and snacks full of fresh fruits and vegetables to meet your daily recommended allowance. Choose rich, vibrant colors and vary your intakes to deliver a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Opt for a side salad or grilled chicken instead of french fries or chicken wings. Fried and greasy foods put a real damper on our digestive systems, causing stress. Get your essential fat from foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils and fatty fish like salmon.

Choose “whole foods” most often for a stress-free body. Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined that do not contain added ingredients like salt, sugar or fat. Some good examples are fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Highly processed foods often contain enriched white flours and or granulated sugars, which cause irregular blood sugars and that “high and low” effect in our body. This cause and effect is what allows food cravings to run rapid.

Wash your fresh fruits and vegetables well or buy organic when able to reduce your intake of chemicals and pesticides that create free radicals in our bodies.

The “everything in moderation” rule also applies to reducing your body’s dietary stress. Starvation and very restrictive diets can be just as stressful on your body as overeating so enjoy all foods in moderation.

Park far away in the parking lots and take the stairs instead of the elevators and escalators when shopping this holiday season. Even little bits of movement add up to big results in the long run.

Pack a healthy snack to bring with you when going out to a holiday party, shopping or event that may hold up your next healthy meal. Eating a small snack between meals or one to two hours before going out to eat can help you control portions and make better food choices because you’re not overly hungry. Some good ideas are fresh fruit, trail mix with dried fruit and dry roasted nuts and seeds, or a peanut-butter sandwich on whole-grain bread.

Tis the season to be merry and joyful, so don’t forget to have fun and laugh often. Laughing and finding the time to enjoy yourself helps us all to let loose and forget about our daily stressors. Laughing even burns calories, so do it loud and often!


Stress-relief snack

  • 1 cup of fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup of frozen or fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup of unsalted walnuts

Layer ingredients and enjoy as a cold or frozen treat, or replace the yogurt with 1 cup of whole oats for a warm breakfast!


About the author

Terrah Setteducato is a practicing registered dietitian with the American Dietetic Association. She received her bachelor’s of science in nutrition and food science from Hunter College in New York City in 2004. Terrah currently works with Aetna’s Dedicated Patient Health Advocate Team in Albany, N.Y., and maintains her private practice “Lifestyle Changes Nutritional Counseling Center.” Lifestyle Changes offers 1:1 individualized nutrition care plans and condition specific meal plans, cooking classes and grocery store visits. If you want to learn more about Lifestyle Changes, contact Terrah at tsetteducato@gmail.com.