Saturday, December 4, 2010

Avoid Holiday Stress with ~ Super Foods!



Is the Holiday Stress Getting to You Yet? Perhaps take a look at this helpful advice.

Last year I had the good fortune to review an arc copy of The SuperStress Solution by Dr. Roberta Lee. It was an informative book, with many practical ways to manage stress naturally, all written by a MD who has been trained by the AZ Center for Integrative Medicine, headed by Dr. Andrew Weil (natural health MD/guru). image006

With that in mind we have an article from Dr. Lee to share, on stress around the holidays and what one can do about it through natural diet and supplements. So take a look, since by implementing these suggestions (I especially like the chocolate bit) your holidays may feel a bit less crazy. Even the calmest of souls could use a bit of help during this very busy month.

Reduce SuperStress with Super Foods ~ By Roberta Lee M.D.,
Author of The SuperStress Solution

The holidays are fast approaching, and with them the promise of festivities, feasts, and fat!  But our ballooning girth will do more than stress our belt buckles. Most of us will feel the literal stress of over-eating and also suffer more from the guilt of gluttony than we would care to admit. It doesn't have to be this way. In addition to trying to keep up with your exercise routine, getting enough sleep, and having a snack before you head to a party (you won't overeat if you're already a little full!), try to avoid junk food/fast food, sugar-laden foods, too much caffeine and alcohol, and excessive amounts of high fat red meat. These foods and beverages tax your system and will actually make you feel more stressed, more lethargic, and less able to cope with the stresses of daily life causing SuperStress.

But holidays and parties shouldn't be about deprivation! Consider this: there are actually a handful of foods that can help reduce stress (and help you stay trim, too). Aim to keep these five easy to find and delicious foods in your diet through the holiday season, and beyond:

Dark chocolate. Chocolate has a lot going for it in addition to its divine taste. It is plump full of flavanoids -- a powerful class of antioxidants -- which have been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Other compounds found in chocolate seem to lower the "bad" component of cholesterol (LDL) while leaving the "good" (HDL) component unchanged. Dark chocolate also contains several psychoactive chemicals that promote alertness and even euphoria. The latest scientific literature even shows it has some blood pressure lowering properties.

To me, though, that's not what's so beautiful about chocolate. What I think is beautiful about chocolate is its ability to enhance sensory recruitment in every way. It's so inexpensive to have a piece of chocolate and it's so pleasurable, that if that's something you like and that's part of what living well is about, I say: go for it. Once a day, treat yourself to a guilt-free of a typical dark chocolate bar or 1 ounce of chocolate roughly the size of the palm of a woman's hand. Doctor's orders!

Tea. Although caffeine has been shown to lead to a more positive mood and improved performance, there's a fine line between just enough and too much. Too much caffeine can make you dependent and make you nervous, irritable, and hypersensitive or bring on headaches. Because brewed tea is lower in caffeine per cup than coffee, you can drink more tea than coffee before experiencing these effects. Tea also provides a little L-theanine, a calming amino acid.

Magnesium rich foods. Magnesium is an essential mineral for human nutrition. Magnesium in the body serves several important metabolic functions. It plays a role in the production and transport of energy. It is also important for the contraction and relaxation of muscles and has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Green vegetables such as spinach are good sources of magnesium, as are black beans, peas, nuts (peanuts), seeds (pumpkin and squash), tofu, broccoli and whole, unrefined grains.

Berries. Under stress we naturally crave sweet things but the problem is that nine out of ten times, the sweets we're craving are calorie laden. Berries are naturally sweet and they have vitamin C which tends to be helpful in combating stress. Furthermore, berries have some fiber -- which will decrease cravings by building up bulk in your GI track.

Avocados. When you're under stress, your body tends to use B vitamins at a faster than normal rate. In order to replenish that supply, eat ¼ of an avocado when you're stressed -- on a sandwich, in a salad, or all by itself -- to boost B vitamin levels. In addition to B, avocados are also rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium and a fatty acid known as oleic acid -- this fat has been shown to have a mild influence in lowering cholesterol.

To reduce stress, and avoid SuperStress, try this today: 426px-Keep-calm-and-carry-on_svg-213x300

Simple as it sounds; focused breathing -- during which you think about your breath as you inhale and exhale -- is a very effective stress-management technique. A slow, full breath triggers physical and cognitive changes that promote relaxation. Deep breathing helps release tension and anxiety and is a great energizer because the deeper the breath, the more your body is flooded with life-fueling oxygen. A full breath begins with the diaphragm pushing downward so that the stomach extends out. As your lungs fill with air, your chest expands. When you exhale, the reverse occurs -- your chest settles first and then your stomach.

  • When anxiety strikes or you find yourself focusing on negative thoughts, immediately exhale through your mouth.
  • Now, open your lungs, and breathe in through your nose, drawing in a fresh, cleansing air to the count of four.
  • Exhale again slowly to the count of five.
  • Repeat four times.

Copyright © 2009 Roberta Lee M.D., author of The SuperStress Solution

Author Bio: Roberta Lee, M.D., author of The SuperStress Solution, is vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine, director of Continuing Medical Education, and co-director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel's Continuum Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Lee attended George Washington University Medical School and is one of the four graduates in the first class from the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona conducted by Andrew Weil, M.D. For more information please visit

For more information on Dr. Lee’s book please see Layers of Thought’s preview.

Amazon purchasing options US/UK/Canada.

This could also be a wonderful holiday gift for the right person - those who really enjoy a very holistic and natural approach to health and stress management.

A big thanks to FSB Media for providing this article to share with our readers here on Layers of Thought.

Have a great less stress day, and have fun shopping!


ediFanoB said...

Hi Shellie,
it seems I'm a lucky person because I don't have any holiday stress. For me and my family it is a relaxing time. We eat and speak together. My wife and I spend afternoons with reading books. Wonderful...

Alexia561 said...

Excellent advice! I try to eat dark chocolate, and am already a tea drinker. Here's to surviving the holidays with as little stress as possible!

Unknown said...

Edi -
Well then I am even more jealous of you now than before, since you have your own different personalities to have discussions with so you will never be lonely, and you can read and brush your teeth at the same time. ;)

Me its not really the holidays, so much right now as having a serious attack from gremlins on my ereader and ipod, which contained a bunch of books which are now gone.

I hate tech support!

Alexia -
I am eating chocolate by the box recently. Have you tried chocolate cheerios? Darn they are so good and not so many calories as to break the diet bank.

Yes we love our tea too - the English drink a lot so I have been sucked into the habit.

A pat on the back and a cup of tea can change your day...

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