There are five ways to make nutrition help you deal with stress. If you follow these steps, you should sail through any stressful time.

1. Eat Processed-Free
Eating whole nutrition foods keeps you balanced and calm overall, especially in times of stress. If you eat too many processed foods you will feel lethargic, tired, and moody. To enjoy the holidays, eat well and feel energized all season.

2. Be Gentle With Yourself
Don’t treat eating processed-free like a fanatic. I recently had someone ask me whether she could eat turkey for Thanksgiving because she heard that most turkeys have sugar injected into them. Alas, most frozen turkeys are laced with a dextrose solution, but if it means not eating turkey, you don’t have to take it that far! Try to avoid sugar as much as possible to reduce your exposure. Because of the prevalence of sugar in the food supply, you probably won’t be able to avoid it entirely without becoming a complete neurotic. You should make efforts to eliminate it as much as possible, but don’t create more stress in your life over a turkey!

Listen to your body with kindness and you will soon see what foods give you great energy boosts (e.g. fruit, nuts) and so help to combat stress.

You will also learn which foods don’t make you feel good and which mean you get grumpy and stressed afterwards (e.g. fast food).

But don’t give yourself (or any others!) a hard time if you don’t keep to it all the time. I personally eat very healthily but still have to make concessions every now and then. Follow processed-free living to the best of your ability.

3. Make It Tasty
If you want to eat nutritiously to reduce stress, well, make the food tasty.
I eat and recommend eating simply yet tasty. Add cinnamon and stevia to plain yogurt for a nice sweet taste. Cook brown rice in broth instead of just water and add a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil and a tablespoon of tamari sauce to it, so when it’s done it has a wonderful flavor to it. Eat brown rice with cooked vegetables or a salad and a small amount of turkey or fish.

4. Use Substitutions for Low-Stress Eating:

  • Extra virgin coconut oil instead of canola oil
  • Raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice instead of distilled vinegar
  • Mashed avocado or hummus instead of mayonnaise
  • Sea Salt or Herbamare (organic seasoning salt) instead of iodized salt
  • Wheat-Free Tamari sauce instead of soy sauce
  • Stevia, raw honey, or raw coconut nectar instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • Oat bran instead of bread crumbs for meatloaf or breaded items
  • White whole wheat flour, traditional whole wheat flour, or whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour

5. Manage Meals

  • The best way to manage stress is to manage your meals. Here’s a good suggestion for managing your meals:
  • A hardy, substantial meal in the morning. Breakfast should always contain protein, fiber, and healthy oils.
  • A lighter meal at night. Dinner should actually be the smallest meal of the day.
  •  Eat a salad daily. Have either a side salad with meals or make the whole meal a salad. Some of my clients eat salads for breakfast!
  • Fruits in between meals rather than with meals. Except for fruits with yogurt or whey, fruits do not digest well with other foods and can cause digestive stress. I recommend eating fruits first, then wait 10 to 20 minutes before eating other foods.

Use these foods and tips for making your days stress-free and healthy!