Turkey contains the 'magic ingredient' amino acid tryptophan, which brings about the release of a feel-good chemical in the brain called serotonin. And when serotonin is released it induces a sense of calm, so much so it can even lead to feelings of tiredness. This could be the reason why Christmas day generally ends with a snooze in front of the fire!
At times of stress your body just seems to crave carbs, but instead of going for fries, mash or plates of pasta, opt for sweet potatoes instead. As sweet potatoes are a low GI carb (meaning they release a slow, steady source of energy), after you eat you won't have that blood-sugar crash that a big baguette or plate of penne can cause. Cut sweet potatoes into wedges and bake with olive oil and rosemary, mash them or just bake them in their skins.
Blueberries are well known on the food circuit as having superfood status, and rightly so. The concentrated antioxidants in blueberries go right to a sluggish and stressed-out brain faster than a double espresso. They're also extremely high in vitamin C, which has been shown to give the body added reserves to help it deal with high levels of stress. Another stress-busting weapon in the blueberries armor is that they are packed with fibre which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels that fluctuate too much are a major contributor to stress for some people.
Avocados sometimes get bad press because they are high in fat, but it's the 'good' monounsaturated kind, not the hard, yellowy saturated stuff. And it's these monounsaturated fats, coupled with high levels of potassium, that give avocados their stress-busting status. Research has shown one of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to eat foods that are rich in potassium, and avocados are jam-packed with it, even more than bananas.
Sushi is rich in not one but two feel-good chemicals, serotonin and melatonin. Plus, the rice in the rolls gives you the perfect fiber and carbs-to-protein combo, just enough to give you the added energy boost with no after burn. And we can't forget the fish; the omega 3 in oily fish like salmon and tuna have been found by doctors to be nature's number one stress reducer.
Despite having a strange effect on your urine, asparagus is super high in folic acid which can help stabilise a stressful mood. When your body is under stress it releases hormones which can affect your mood. Eating certain vitamins and minerals like folic acid and B vitamins can help keep your mood steady because they're needed to make that feel-good chemical serotonin. Cook asparagus on a grill pan and serve up with a filet of salmon and sweet potato mash on the side for the perfect stress-busting supper.
What a great reason to order a steak — it can chill you out. Beef's stress busting properties are due to its B vitamins and levels of zinc. Of course, beef does contain the 'bad fats', the unhealthy saturated kind which can increase your risk of coronary heart disease and other illnesses. But you can get around this issue by opting for the leaner cuts; the perfect excuse to go for a filet. One of the healthier ways to serve beef is Carpaccio, slightly seared on the outside, sliced super-thin and served up with a rocket salad.