Good Foods, Good Moods: Holiday Stress

 ‘Tis the season to be jolly, except sometimes it’s hard to keep up the merry spirit. Hectic holiday schedules, colder weather, shorter days, and time spent indoors can lead to a dispirited Christmas.  The holiday blues aren’t imaginary – seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is the official medical term for winter-induced depression.  Luckily, one of the easiest ways to combat the winter-time blues is a quick trip to your neighborhood Brookshire Brothers grocery store.  To keep your spirits merry and bright, focus on foods rich in the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, and K, arachidonic acid (found in animal fats), omega-3 fats, calcium, and B vitamins. Here’s a list of ten mood-boosters to help you keep the holidays happy.


Egg yolks are nature’s multivitamin, and they don’t disappoint in terms of mood-boosting nutrition. In addition to vitamin A, vitamin D, and arachidonic acid, they also contain plenty of B-vitamins to make your days merrier.   


Drinking milk is a simple way to up your vitamin A, D, and calcium intake. Whole milk is even better (who knew?!) since it contains some natural vitamin A as well as arachidonic acid.
Girl Drinking Glass of Milk


Eating a diet with a good balance of omega-3 versus omega-6 fats is a well-established strategy in fighting depression. Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.  Better yet, seafood is also rich in vitamins A and D (amongst many other nutrients), so eat a variety of seafood options including shellfish and even fish eggs for maximum benefit.


The brain and the digestive tract are linked through the central nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system.  So what happens in the gut doesn’t stay in the gut! That means the healthier your gut bacteria, the happier you’ll be. Make probiotic rich foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and fermented vegetables (such as fermented sauerkraut) a part of your everyday diet.
Read more: Kefir, kombucha, fermented sauerkraut—these are three of nine foods you can challenge yourself to try this month!


If there’s one thing that’s the mecca of nutrition, it’s organ meats. In general, organ meats get little glory—but they are gloriously nutritious! Liver in particular is one of the richest sources of nearly every nutrient—ESPECIALLY vitamin A and vitamin D. 


Eating chocolate is good for your mood (any surprise?). Specifically, the darker the chocolate, the better. Cocoa powder is another nutritious option. Mix up a cup of hot chocolate with whole milk, a spoonful of cocoa powder and a sweetener of your choice (I like honey) for a delicious mood-boosting treat that will warm you from the inside out.
Peanut Butter Cup Smores Dip
Read more: HINT—dark chocolate is also great for s’mores. Check out these five fun ways to fix your favorite campfire treat.


If butter doesn’t make you happy, then I can’t help you (kidding). But seriously, butter is the best—and it’s actually good for you! It has the perfect trio of mood boosters: vitamin A, vitamin D, and arachidonic acid. Even better, it’s on sale in this week’s ad!


Drinking as many as four cups of antioxidant-rich green tea daily has been shown to decrease depression, with the effect increasing for every additional cup!
Read more: Did you know that pistachios are also rich in antioxidants—and it’s a distant cousin to mangoes and poison ivy?


Sprinkle a little Gouda cheer over your meal this holiday season. Cheese is rich in vitamin K2, another brain and mood boosting shining star. Some of the best varieties for vitamin K2 content are Jarlsberg, Gouda, Edam, Swiss, Emmental, and Blue Cheese


Going outside gets you exposed to bright outdoor light, even when it’s cloudy. When you’re outside, you typically move around more. And when you move more and get exposed to natural light, you sleep better. Light exposure, movement, and sleep are all closely connected with mood and wellbeing.
Dad and boy with kite
Merry Christmas and HAPPY Holidays!

Angela Larson is a registered dietitian (RD) who works with Brookshire Brothers promoting real fresh, real delicious foods and nutrition education to the community. She is also a clinical dietitian representing Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin where she does outreach education on food and nutrition. Food is her passion, so Angela loves trying new recipes and exploring the more holistic side of nutrition. Angela loves to cook, garden, and spend time outdoors. In addition to the Brookshire Brothers blog, look for Angela's monthly articles in Charm East Texas.