Posted 1 month ago

Eating to Beat Holiday Fatigue (and Stress)

 Kindra S Peterson, MS, RDN, CSO

The holiday season is a special time of year however, it can also come with added commitments (family gatherings, holiday parties) and errands (cooking, shopping) which can result in fatigue and stress.

Your body runs off what you feed it. The best way to get the most energy from your food is to make sure you are giving yourself the best foods possible.

While we tend to correlate calories from foods with pounds on the scale, by definition a calorie is energy so to provide your body with energy you need to eat and provide the body with calories. Any foods you eat is going to provide you with energy, the key is choosing the foods that are going to provide sustained energy and provide the nutrients you need to keep healthy.

 

Some tips for eating to beat that holiday fatigue:

  • Drink plenty of fluids daily. Dehydration adds to fatigue, so drink water, unsweetened tea, 100% no added sugar juice, or diluted juice.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and foods. These may give you an immediate energy burst but will leave you feeling worse when it wears off.
  • Eat frequently throughout the day. Eat a small meal or snack every 1-2 hours. This will provide energy regularly throughout the day keeping your energy level up and constant. Including some protein with all meals and snacks will aid in keeping your energy level up. Do not skip meals.
    • Foods that can provide more sustained and constant energy to better combat fatigue include:
      • Unprocessed foods
      • Fresh/seasonal fruits and vegetables
      • Non-caffeinated beverages
      • Lean proteins
      • Whole grains
      • Nuts/seeds
      • Water
    • Foods that can drain your energy and lead to increased fatigue include:
      • Processed grains- white bread, rice and pasta
      • Foods with high amounts of added sugars
      • Alcohol
      • Coffee
      • Energy drinks
      • Fried and fast foods
      • Low calorie foods
    • Focus on Protein. It helps your body repair and heal itself, builds up your immune system and blood cells and keeps energy level up following meals/snacks. Foods like salmon, chicken, turkey, lean beef, tofu, tempeh, lentils, milk and dairy foods, nuts and nut butters and eggs are high in protein. An extra tip for a protein boost: powdered milk can be added to soups, hot cereals, casseroles, sauces and gravies, mashed potatoes, essentially any dish with milk or cream- to provide added protein to the food without altering the flavor.
    • Eat healthy fats like those found in nuts and seeds, avocadoes, olive oil.
    • Do not overeat in an attempt to gain energy. This can actually worsen fatigue.

 

Some additional science-backed tips for managing holiday fatigue and stress beyond healthy eating and staying hydrated:

  • Stay active. The benefits we get from being active are too numerous to list here. However, being active provides an immediate per by giving you more pep. Some quick ways to incorporate more activity into your day:
    • Park farther away
    • Do a few laps around the mall/shopping center or store
    • Do something first thing in the morning- you may have more energy for it first thing in the morning and it can help you feel more energized for the rest of the day.
  • To fight fatigue you need healthy amounts of sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine overload. Loading up on caffeine for the energy boost can backfire and result in worse fatigue. To avoid relying on caffeinated beverages, swap them out for herbal tea or water especially later in the day. You might sleep better and feel less fatigued the next morning.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can interfere with your sleep and sap your energy.
  • Take steps to reduce your stress. Stress is an energy zapper and the holidays come with their own stressors, no need to add to it! Try these tips to keep your stress in check:
    • Plan in advance. Whether it is planning your shopping, holiday parties, holiday baking, etc.- it can help you from adding any non-essential activities (and non-essential stressors) to your holiday list.
    • Let loose. It is harder to feel stressed if you are having fun so try to let loose and participate in the holiday fun for an hour or two. Play a board game, chase the dog around the yard, turn on some music and sing/dance.
    • Take a break. When you feel the stress mounting, take a bath, listen to some soothing music, most importantly, just breathe.

The holidays should be a time of joy, fun and togetherness. We hope that these tips will help bring you more holiday cheer and less holiday jeer this holiday season!

 


About Kindra Peterson, MS, RD, CSO

Kindra Peterson, MS, RD, CSO Ironwood Cancer and Research CentersKindra is a Registered Dietitian. Kindra received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Science from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. She then attained her  Master’s of Science Degree in Nutrition from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Kindra has almost 20 years of experience working in Healthcare and Nutrition and over ten years of teaching experience, specializing in courses related to nutrition, health, and wellness at the university level.

About Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers

Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers (ICRC) is the largest multi-specialty oncology network in the Greater Metro Phoenix area. They have over 100 medical providers, a robust Integrative Services program, and a dedicated clinical research department. Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers has 15 valley locations and five comprehensive cancer care centers that offer a multi-disciplinary approach for expedited personalized patient care. For more information, please visit our website at www.ironwoodcrc.com