Foods to Manage Holiday Stress

December 4, 2023

With the hustle and bustle of the end of the year, how are you going to use your kitchen wisdom to manage holiday stress? In today’s show, we’ll talk about how the food you eat impacts your mood, your resiliency, your sleep, and ultimately your stress levels, during an already stressful time of year. Learn how what you have in your fridge and pantry can be part of your stress reduction plan and get inspired with some meal and snack ideas to help you navigate all the activities and festivities in the coming month.

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LEAH: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. It's hard to believe, but we've been on myTalk every Saturday morning for the last 20 years.

TERESA: That is a really long stretch.

LEAH: It's a huge stretch. It's mind boggling. And every weekend we've been bringing life-changing real food nutrition information out to the masses. At least it started here in the Twin Cities anyways.

TERESA: And it's kind of surprising that there's enough topics to talk about each week for 20 years.

LEAH: I mean, maybe it doesn't surprise us. We have these conversations a lot.

TERESA: No of course. We can talk about it every day, all day.

LEAH: All day. Yep. But as we continue to celebrate this 20th anniversary of Dishing Up Nutrition, we have a special announcement to share with you, our valued listeners. So starting in January, Dishing Up Nutrition will no longer be aired live on myTalk. However, you can still hear the same life-changing information through out podcast like we’ve done for the last 15 years. And even that, is 15 years on a podcast is another like very long like record stretch.

TERESA: Right. Cause considering podcasts; I don’t know about the listeners out there. Some people might be really podcast savvy. But I don’t think 15 years ago podcasts were even on my radar. I think, yeah, so we talk about podcasts all the time, all the podcasts we listen to. But 15 years ago, I don’t know about that. So that’s, I mean, I think that it was; I don’t want to say we were one of the first. I have no idea how many podcasts were out a that time. But certainly it was a new frontier in media.

LEAH: Yeah, yup; absolutely. And we were kind of right there in that frontier at that point. So you can find Dishing Up Nutrition where you listen to podcasts or directly from our website which is And there is a little tab at the top that says podcast; I think it’s podcast, recipes and blog articles.

Click Here to Find Our Podcasts!

So we’ve been so thankful that you’ve joined us on your Saturday mornings and we hope you continue listening wherever you find your podcasts or through our website.

TERESA: Right, and you can still tune in on Saturday mornings at 8 am. It’s just be a little different, a little different way of tuning in through the podcasts. And if you need any help figuring out how to do podcasts too, because I think for some people it’s new territory. It’s not as easy maybe as turning on the radio; we can certainly help you with that. I mean, just give our office a call. We’ll walk you through the steps on showing you how you can get those podcasts. Because really, podcasts are a pretty simple way of listening to a variety of different topics. But we certainly hope that you still tune in to Dishing Up Nutrition.

LEAH: Yup. Absolutely. So before we get too much further into our show this morning, let's introduce ourselves. I'm Leah Kleinschrodt. I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And I see clients virtually throughout the U.S. and I see clients locally here in person at our Woodbury office.

TERESA: And I'm Teresa Wagner. I am also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and I see clients virtually through the, throughout the U.S. and sometimes national, I mean throughout the world. I mean, we've talked about that before. Some Australia, UK, Canada. So we see clients virtually and then I also see clients in person locally at both our St. Paul and our Woodbury offices.

So now that you know who we are, I have a question for you. If you are someone who has low moods, feels irritable and tense, and has low self-esteem, then we invite you to stay tuned because we are heading into the holidays, which often puts more stress on many of us. I know I feel it Leah, do you?

LEAH: Absolutely.

TERESA: Yeah. So we need all the help we can get for stress reduction.

The food connection to stress reduction

LEAH: And we're, today's topic revolves around eating to reduce stress. And I know before I joined Nutritional Weight and Wellness, I had no idea that there was this big connection or like how that plays out in someone's life. Like what does that look like? Like what does that mean? Eat to reduce stress.

So, for me, that was a big learning curve that I had to learn. And so, maybe this is also for those who might be just tuning in a little more recently, this might be a new concept or something that you haven't really thought about before. For long time listeners, you'll know, you know, that, this is not, this might not be a new concept for you. And actually one of our very first Dishing Up Nutrition episodes was how to have a positive mood and reduce stress with food. So again, like this has been a big message we've been trying to get out into the world for 20 years.

TERESA: Yeah. They might be thinking, what do you mean stress or foods to reduce stress? Because I thought stress was coming from work or from raising a family or health conditions. Why would, how does that connect?

LEAH: Yeah. How does food connect into this picture? Yep. And Dar, our founder and Bea James, she was, I remember listening to her a couple on a couple episodes way back in the day. She was the organic specialist from Lund's and Byerly's. They were the host for that particular show of how to have a positive mood and reduce stress with food.

And so today's show is all about how that food plays into our moods. How does that connect into stress? And, and actually it's nice because we have choices and control around our food, which then means we have choices and control at least to some extent around our stress.

TERESA: Yes. And it's a, it's a biochemical connection that most people are just really not aware of and it's, you know, we're just not taught it, right? I mean, it's, it's not people trying to be naive. It's just, we just haven't learned it because we haven't been taught it, but there's a pretty simple formula that we can use.

What is the biochemical connection between food and stress?

So if you're not really interested in learning the biochemistry behind it, a very simple formula that we can use to help combat that stress is the nutrients found in our foods, particularly proteins and good dietary fats, make positive moods. So it's the nutrients that are found in those foods that create biochemical, biochemical…

LEAH: Reactions.

TERESA: Reactions. Thank you.

LEAH: It's an early Saturday morning.

TERESA: But those reactions happen and things happen because of that. You know, it isn't just, happenstance that these things happen, that what we put in our body makes a big difference. And so those proteins and good dietary fats make positive moods, while sugar and processed carbohydrates can make negative moods.

So step back a minute and think, well, do I want to be negative, crabby, depressed and anxious during the holidays? Or do I want to be positive, happy, full of energy for this holiday season? As you think about that, what do you want? I think the answer is relatively obvious, but I would suggest, you know, even in my own life, I can, I can feel it when I have too many carbs or high sugar foods.

It feels like a, almost like this heavy cloud comes over my brain and body and I'm irritable. I'm not motivated to do things and it leads to this desire to eat more sugar. And I think it's because I’m looking for just that pick me up that you sometimes get from sugar. However, that becomes a vicious cycle, right; where that the mood keeps going lower. The irritability goes up. The unmotivated feelings continue to happen.

So going for those carbs doesn't really work. But I guess from that I just know that I have to be really cognizant about the foods that I'm choosing to eat because it really truly does affect my mood. So we make that connection between what we eat and how we feel. So if you want to have happy, positive moods, stay tuned because we have some food and recipe ideas for you. And I know Leah, you have connected, you know, some of the how you eat to how you feel.

You were sharing at our last nutritionist meeting about how you've replaced having breakfast cereal, probably a long time ago you did that, with, with eggs and vegetables because it wasn't really about weight control. It was more about how it made you feel. It made you feel anxious to be having a carb heavy breakfast.

LEAH: Yep. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Teresa, you shared a little personal info. So now I feel like I have to share a little personal background as well. And I'll, I'll, I'll start the conversation here and then we'll probably have to jump to it once we come back from our first break. But yes, you're right. And I definitely grew up eating cereal, like that was the easy thing that could just be put on the table and we could feed ourselves and it's just kind of easy thing, especially for kids.

But I remember having anxiety, having those anxiety tendencies, even as a kid. I like I would have stomach aches before going to dance class because I didn't want to go to dance class, or I quit the swim team after three days of practice because I didn't know what I was doing. And I thought like, okay, everybody else knows what they're doing and I don't.

And, you know, some of those stories that we tell ourselves and my mom always told me too, or she told me this as I got older and had started having my own kids, that I was always the kid that didn't really like change. I, it was hard to adapt just because like those anxious feelings would come up. So this has been something that's been a part of my background for a very long time.

And I just kind of subscribed to like, this is the way I am. So let's, I'm going to put a pin in that story just for a moment and I'll come back and talk about just how food actually changed that experience for me. But we do have to take our first break. So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness.

And this year we are celebrating our 20th anniversary of Dishing Up Nutrition. Thank you, listeners, for every time you flip that dial to 107.1 and listen to the nutritional information that's out there, that hopefully made your life better. Many hours go into each show and the information is always based on scientific research, not fad diets or false information.

And it's actually interesting. The New York Times had an article just a little while ago about how some dietitians are being paid to promote unhealthy foods like soda and artificial sweeteners. And we can safely say that on Dishing Up Nutrition, that has never happened. You can trust our info. We'll be right back.


TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We understand that following a real food eating plan makes us feel better, but it is not always easy to do. Food companies keep introducing more addictive types of foods that can get us off course. Most of us need to make that connection to our nutrition and health commitment every few months and traditionally in January we do make that commitment.

LEAH: It's right around the corner.

TERESA: At least for a week or two.

LEAH: Yes.

TERESA: Well Dar and the staff at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we invite you to take a class or to sign up for nutrition counseling, so when January 1st and 2nd comes around you have a committed plan in place. Check out our website,, to check out the best option for you.

Schedule Nutrition Counseling or Take a Class

LEAH: Great. Yes. And so before we went to break, I was just sharing a little of my personal story about stress and anxiety. And I kind of laid this groundwork saying like for me personally, being a little more anxious and kind of riding that edge was, was always more part of my background.

And I had just kind of subscribed that this, this was me, this was my personal makeup and that, you know, I just kind of, I manage it the best that I can. And then I learned about eating real food. Well, actually, let me even back up a couple of years before that. I'm kind of thinking college and how I would start my day.

This, I definitely grew up and Teresa, I'm sure you did too, in that low fat, non-fat era where fat was like, like the main thing that caused people to be obese. So you didn't want to eat any fat.

TERESA: Yeah, I absolutely did. And what's interesting about that is that I really brought that on myself. My parents really didn't push that, that idea. They were always real butter and, and, you know, I don't ever remember them talking about low fat.

It certainly could have come up because it was very much the time, but that was something like I would read the boxes and I would look at things and I would, you know, if it was low fat, it was better. And I think that was really more that came from me and just what I was learning out in the world, not so much within my house, my home. Yeah.

LEAH: And again, especially like as you get into those late teens, early twenties, and I mean, you are, you're starting to look outside of that box of your family and your immediate surroundings to learn more. And again, like that certainly happened to me as well. So like my breakfast in college would be a banana, non-fat yogurt and craisins, like the dried fruit thrown into the yogurt and I was like this is the healthy thing to do.

TERESA: I would just love to know what your blood sugar did after that, like it would be so interesting.

LEAH: A little horrified to know what my blood sugar was doing. Yeah, yeah exactly so yeah, so like, I can totally see this in retrospect of like, I think I had a lot of big blood sugar swings. It contributed to my anxiety a lot. I just didn't know it at the time. And so it wasn't until I came to Nutritional Weight and Wellness, I actually started working front desk and just started learning little bits here and there from clients or from the other nutritionists and dietitians and from sitting in on the classes.

And I just decided, I was like, what's the worst thing that could happen? And I'm going to try this balanced eating thing and just see what happens. I mean, it seems to make sense. Eat food as in its most natural state as possible. Eat every couple of hours; simple formula. And I remember after three weeks of really committing to that and actually really doing it intentionally, I noticed I was just happier overall and I was able to just roll with the punches that come with life.

Inevitably, I just able to roll with the punches a little easier than I had been prior. So it's for me, this is a daily practice. It's not always perfect and it, but I can tell when I get off balance, when I get off kilter, when I am running more in that stress mode, and I can look back then and make those connections and say, okay, why am I feeling this way?

Well, it might've been because, you know, lunch got pushed back two hours and then my blood sugar got low. And then those, those stressful feelings started to bubble up again. So it's not, it's not perfect by any means, but I know… now, I know I have that information. I can control this at least to an extent and that I actually I can feel the difference when I eat real food and eat consistently and keep my blood sugar steady. So for me with anxiety, it makes a world of difference.

TERESA: Yeah. And I think that when we're thinking about foods for preventing holiday stress, that is, it's so common for those things to happen at this time of year because we just get so busy and food goes on the back burner a little bit because we've got other things that are taking priority.

LEAH: Absolutely.

TERESA: You know, it's interesting. Your story makes me think of a client that shared his experience of connecting how he was eating to how he felt. This gentleman had taken our Nutrition for Weight Loss classes several years ago and he had told us how he overcame his depression with diet and lifestyle changes. Of course, this takes time. This is not something that, you know, we're just changing lunch and okay, I'm not depressed anymore. This is a real commitment and that can be really difficult to do when you have depression because it's hard to be motivated for some of those things when you're in that mental state.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: But one change that he told us about specifically that just kind of stuck out in my mind, just had kind of how he phrased it was he switched up his breakfast like you did Leah, from eating cereal to eggs and spinach. But what he said is I'm tired of eating like an adolescent. I want to eat like an adult.

And so he threw out his Lucky Charms and bought some eggs and spinach and that's what he was having for breakfast. And maybe for teens today, maybe they're not eating Lucky Charms. But maybe they are.

LEAH: They're still out there. I’ve seen them.

TERESA: But they could also be, you know, just grabbing a couple of Pop Tarts on the way out the door.

LEAH: Oh yes.

The caffeine connection to anxiety

TERESA: Or maybe they're grabbing a coffee and you know, some of those coffees are super charged and, and when they get to school, maybe they're shaky and anxious and worried about everything. And we think that it's more of a social anxiety or a school anxiety, but it really could be what they're putting in their bodies is contributing to this, like you were talking about.

According to the NIH, 30 percent of teens have an anxiety disorder. That's a lot of teens struggling, and that's all the ones that we know about. I always feel like those statistics are maybe a little bit low because it's not like they've asked every teen, you know?

So could, could that food be that connection and their beverage choices? Is that setting them up for anxiety? And caffeine is such a great example that most people can relate to of how what we put into our bodies can make us feel something. I mean, sometimes it makes us feel great, right? If you have just a little bit, but if you have too much, I mean, so many of us are familiar with that jittery, anxious feeling that we can get from that. And so that's just another example of connecting what you eat or drink and how you feel.

LEAH: Yep, absolutely. And that is a discussion I'll have with clients too is okay. What is like, what have you found to be your threshold for caffeine? And where do you need to keep it below? And you can function fairly well. And if you go above that threshold, okay, where do we start to get a negative return on investment there?

TERESA: Right. And for teens, I would say the threshold should be zero, right? I mean, they should have so much natural energy. And if they don't, I would be thinking it's more about sleep. Are you not getting enough sleep?

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: Nutrition, of course. I mean, but yes.

LEAH: Absolutely. Yep. So that's a great point. And we are going to talk a little bit more about this food, stress, anxiety connection when we come back. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. For the past six months, we've been working really hard to make our Nutrition for Weight Loss 12-week Foundations class more user friendly.

We've got great new graphics, new recipes, a new cookbook, and even easier to follow eating plan. So come join us. In January, we have classes in person at our locations, or you can take it via Zoom and all of our nutrition educators are excited to share this new information. So you can call us at 651-699-3438 or check out our website. We'll be right back.


TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are all excited about the new and improved Nutrition for Weight Loss Foundations plan. As a company, we understand that it has been stressful times for many of us, and frankly, it's still stressful times. We believe the best stress reducer is eating real food.

We don't judge. We're not looking for perfection. We just want to work on progress. As listeners, you know that medications, particularly weight loss drugs, are not always the answer. It's eating real food day after day to regain your health. Call us at 651-699-3438 and we'd love to answer any questions that you might have. Our classes are starting the week of January 9th.

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LEAH: Great. Yeah. And Teresa, you mentioned just, this is a more stressful time. We've known stress to a different level the last couple of years as we've known it. So the title of this show is Foods to Manage Holiday Stress, but I think we can safely just call it Foods to Manage Stress, period, right there.

We don't have to say that necessarily this is only for the holidays. It just, again, this time of year, some of those stressors can be a little more amplified. And as a dietitian with a master's degree in nutrition, I like to take a deeper dive into specific topics and just ask more questions, do a little more digging into the why's, the how's, the what's.

Skipping meals & holiday treats can amplify stress

So I start to think, you know, do people really have more stress during the holidays, or is there something else going on around this time that perpetuates that stress even more? And like I mentioned just a second ago, just amplifies it or takes it to the next level. You know, is it a, the real issue and people have fewer, maybe coping skills around this time or just less, like less resilience to stress?

Like there's less give, less flexibility out there. And one thing I think about is maybe this is because now we're skipping meals or that now the cookies and the candy are a little more plentiful rather than kind of sticking strictly with that, that simplified meal plan of meat and vegetables and good fats.

So these are just some of the questions I ponder. And I think as a, you know, I'm a mom of two young kids and I work. You know, for me personally, I do find that the holidays are a time of increased stress.


LEAH: And, yeah, Teresa, you and I were talking a bit about this over the break. And as we were preparing for the show, this is just a time where it is easy to over commit, to over shop, over decorate, over clean. We're trying to do all the things, so it's, it is so easy to just overdo in general. So what price do we pay on the back end of that?

TERESA: Well, right. And it is, it's one of those things where yeah, there is more to do and more to do usually brings more stress. And it's, well, how do we, how do we, like you were saying, how do we cope with that? How do we become more resilient to it? How do we, yes, there is more to do. That's just a reality of it, of this time of year for, for many people. And so what are the things that we can do in order to feel good as we have all these responsibilities that we need to take care of?

LEAH: And one way I think about that too is, yeah, how do we, how do we take care of our nervous system? How do we take care of our brain so that we do have that bit of resilience? Like, how do we do that when we do have that tendency to overdo in some other areas?

TERESA: Because the whole point, don't you think, Leah, the whole point of this season, it's supposed to be the season of joy and happiness and family and togetherness. And then we just overdo it like we're talking about and you end up feeling irritable and overstretched and tired and we just need to work on strategies to cope.

Coping strategies NOT to do

LEAH: Yeah. Yep. And so when we, like when I think about coming at this from the nutrition perspective, it's like, okay, what, what are, like, how are people coping? How are we trying to like kind of manage through some of this stress? Some people overeat sugar or like they really indulge in these special treats, especially the stuff that comes out this time of year. I would say I've run into some clients lately too they, they are more, they are more likely this time of year to skip meals, maybe because they're too busy to stop what they're doing to actually eat their lunch.

Or like you go out all day to do your shopping and it's just like, I'm going to put my nose to the grind and just get it done. And I'll, I'll kind of deal with things later. Or, this is a time of year where the holiday parties are, are, or we have lots of events that we're trying to attend and maybe we're skipping a meal or two just to try to save up those calories.

TERESA: Or drinking more alcohol. Because there's more parties. And it seems to go hand in hand.

LEAH: Yes. Yeah. And, and to that point of an event or overdoing it on alcohol or overdoing it on the sugar, then some people have a tendency to, I'm just going to skip through my breakfast because I overdid it the night before. Like this is a way to kind of rebalance, but it's swinging from one side of the pendulum to the other. So now you have a nervous system that is overworked, overwhelmed, overstretched, and now it's also undernourished.

TERESA: Yes. Speaking of overwhelmed, I have a friend who would call it procrastinating when she would get overwhelmed. It would be like she had so much to do that she got felt overwhelmed by it that she would eat instead of tackle what needed to be done.

LEAH: Oh goodness. Yeah.

TERESA: And sometimes maybe that's okay. You power up with some protein and veggies. But I kind of think that the procrastinators are probably going more for a handful of crackers or pretzels, you know, candy or sweets or whatever, you know.

LEAH: That’s what I was thinking too.

The importance of making sleep a priority

TERESA: Yeah. That quick pick me up, that dopamine hit, that sugar hit that just feels so good. And it's just frankly a nice break. I mean, I think that sometimes people just, they just want to tap out for a minute. When I'm overdoing it, I know that I am not sleeping enough because there's just, there's only 24 hours in the day, right? And so if we have more to do there, that one seems to be the thing that sometimes gets, short shortened, the sleep side of things.

And then it's more difficult to focus and pay attention. I start craving sugar and I know then at that point I have to work harder to avoid falling into unhealthy habits. So it is crucial to make sleep a priority.

LEAH: Yep. I, same. I, my sleep, I definitely noticed I am, especially after having kids, like I noticed my sleep, I really have to pay attention to my sleep. I am someone that does not do well. My husband, a little bit more resilient in terms of like some sleep deprivation and stuff like that; me, not so much. So it is something I have to be a pay, pay attention to and Teresa, I stole this from you at one point, but I have to try to protect my sleep as much as I protect my kids’ sleep and have their routine and stuff like that.

So I like, I, I really try to make that a priority for myself as well. And even thinking in the long term, there's, there was a study that was released by the American Chemical Society that found that lack of sleep for long periods of time increases the risk for Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases.

So, lack of sleep stresses your brain out. If you miss, you know, if you miss sleep, sleeping that, you know, eight hours a night, occasionally, like maybe it happens once or twice here and there; you're up wrapping presents or just making sure the last little bits are, are done for, for the holiday gatherings, not super concerned about that.

If it becomes a habit though, you know, if it's, I'm just going to sit on the couch and watch one more show. Like it's only a 22-minute show. Like I'm just going to do this one more time and then it's five shows later. Or you fall asleep on the couch, it's two hours later, then you get up and then it's like, okay, now I got to go to bed. And then you can't fall asleep.

How sleep can be helped from a nutrition perspective

If we get into some of those repetitive bad habits, that's where the more serious concern comes in. So from a nutrition perspective, what can we do to help our sleep? One thing that is helpful for some people is eating a balanced bedtime snack. And again, long term listeners, you've heard this before, but it bears repeating that your brain and your blood sugar, they function well when they have a little bit of carbohydrate, you know, maybe in the 10 to 15 grams of carbohydrates realm.

So this is three quarters cup of blueberries or one small apple. You pair those carbs with some healthy fats, like two tablespoons of peanut butter on that apple, or a quarter cup of pecans or walnuts to go with those blueberries. And that is just the right amount to, again, not stuff you or not really, really turn on your digestion system, but it keeps your blood sugar steady throughout the night so that you are not waking up in the middle of the night because you're hungry or you're getting low blood sugar.

So you're not going to bed at 10 and waking up at 1 or 2 a.m. because now you have low blood flow to the brain. It wakes you up. You kind of get this little hit of adrenaline. And then for me, I know this, like my brain starts on the hamster wheel and it goes and it goes and it thinks about what happened the day before? What do I need to get done the next day?

It's that worrying brain that tends to prevent us from being able to get back to sleep really easily. So we need to have, you know, some of that good, real food in those hours leading up to bed. It's really critical for having good sleep.

TERESA: Yeah. What is it about that waking up in the middle of the night and everything is so intense and immediate and, but then you wake up and then the morning it's like, oh, okay.

LEAH: Yeah. Like it's like, it's a little more manageable at that point.

TERESA: Right. Yeah. Well, if you're having a hard time getting to good sleep during the holidays, try having a bedtime snack. I explain to my clients that if they go to bed hungry, they might have a difficult time falling asleep as you were talking about. This might lead to insufficient sleep then because we only have so many hours and a lot of times that get up time is very, you know, it's, it's, you have to get up at a certain time. Most of us don't have the luxury of sleeping as late as we want.

So if we can't fall asleep, then it's shortening that window of sleep that we can have. And if we're not well rested, blood sugar levels can rise to levels similar to somebody with prediabetes. So even if you have healthy blood sugar levels normally, if you are not well rested, your blood sugar levels rise.

LEAH: Yep. They rise during the day, right? During the day. This is the aftermath through the rest of the day, you might have some of those higher blood sugars.

TERESA: Yes. And then this can lead to weight gain. If we're not sleeping well, our ability to deal with the stressors that come with the holiday seasons maybe compromise too, because if we're not eating well, we're not sleeping well. It's just a recipe for disaster. So you have this lack of sleep, you have stress, then you put weight gain on top of it. That's just not a fun way to spend the holiday season.

LEAH: No, absolutely. And not a, it's, it's a way to, yes, not, not feel well overall. And I actually just had a kind of a conversation with a client about this just the other day. You know, she, lovely lady, love her to death, but she definitely tends to run a little more type A, and she's a caregiver for her husband who has bone cancer basically and some other like really serious things going on.

And she has her own chronic pain; having some trouble getting protein in during the day and boom, like, okay, now we don't sleep well. And now we're really stuck with, with the extra weight that she gained over those early months and in that early year in COVID.

And it's just been a really frustrating process. And so we're, we, we are trying to get down to those bare bones to say, okay, I think a lot of this stress and cortisol and stuff like that is, is preventing some of that weight loss. And it's, it's keeping, keeping you stuck in this, in this, in this cycle. So we have to talk about strategies. How do we, how do we unwind that? How do we start to pick that apart? So it is, it's a conversation. It's a very real thing that people run into.

Now we have to take our third break. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We have developed many different support and education series for you who have previously taken Nutrition for Weight Loss Foundations series not once, but perhaps several times.

From your request, we now have something called ongoing support sessions available for each, for, available at each of our six locations and on Zoom. The ongoing support sessions are based on a community approach; each of us helping each other; eat better for good health. These classes start the week of January 22nd and there's a limited number that, we, we cap the enrollment just to keep those, that community kind of small and close knit.

So if you're interested or want some more information about each class series. Call us at 651-699-3438 to get your questions answered. And we'll be right back.

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TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I've noticed since the pandemic, more and more people are motivated to take care of their health. People want to gather in small supportive groups to work on both their nutrition and their activity level, their physical activity. More people want to be a part of a supportive community as they make these changes.

To save a place for our January classes, I encourage you to sign up today. The Nutrition for Weight Loss Foundation classes start the week of January 9th and the Ongoing Support sessions start the week of January 22nd. Find the time and the location that works best for you. Very clear descriptions of the classes are on the Weight and Wellness website.

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And before we went to break, we were talking about sleep and I would encourage you if you are struggling with sleep to, to check out our website. We have lots of articles about strategies to get better sleep and we also have plenty of podcasts on the topic as well. And there's lots of helpful hints in there to help you get a better night's sleep. But going forward in the show, I feel like we should get to some food ideas here.

Food planning ideas

LEAH: Yep. That's that's great. Yes. I agree. We've done, we've covered a lot of sleep. You can come at it from a lot of different angles. So again, focusing more on on more the stress that comes with the holidays, I know I realize with my family and work, I have more to do. I just have more to do in general in the during the holidays.

I realize too that for my body that what I eat and when I eat is very important, especially this month of December, so I can feel my best. I can kind of keep a cap on my anxiety and I just function a little bit better, have more of that resilience to the stress that tends to come with this time of year.

I know I do spend time like planning out what are my meals going to look like? When am I going to do my grocery shopping? When does this fit into my week? So I don't need to do last minute trips to the store, extra trips to the store, which adds to that stress level.

TERESA: Well, and the time that it takes, just think about the commuting time. Even if the grocery store is next door, it still would be…

LEAH: Yeah, it's still extra time. And, and again, you made that point too Teresa is that time is a valuable commodity this time of year. And so my stress management plan, you know, kind of centers around meals that gives me for sure, you know, four, you know, I tend to go more even higher protein, probably four to five ounces of protein at a meal, a couple cups of vegetables and at least a tablespoon or about 14 grams of added fat.

And for me, and this is what I encourage my clients as well, is that breakfast sets the tone for the day. It is one of the best ways that you can start off on the right foot and that it has some great ripple effects through the rest of the day. So we do some brainstorming around what a good quality balanced breakfast could look like.

And my fav, my personal favorite, and I've said this before, but I'm going to keep saying it because I'm sure there's new people on that just need more ideas. I love a couple scrambled eggs. I love our turkey breakfast sausage recipe. So I'll have, I'll make up a sheet pan of those, do a big batch of those, throw one of those in with, with those couple of eggs.

And for my vegetable, I love the cabbage apple slaw recipe that comes with the Nutrition for Weight Loss Foundation series. And we've got a couple of similar recipes on our website as well. But I, I make a huge batch of that salad usually once a week, maybe once every 10 days or so. I just eat off of that all week for breakfast. And there is just something about like cold salad, but hot eggs and sausage that's just like, oh, it's so good. And I love it. I could eat that every day.

TERESA: Yeah, that is good. I've done something similar like that too. Yeah. And I actually, this time of year, especially when it's so busy, I, I, my breakfast is very fast. So I buy the, there's a big box store. It starts with the C. They've got a chicken sausage, chicken sausage links, and I'll eat six to nine of those to get the protein I need, which is a lot. I mean, it's a lot. I get it. And I get for a lot of people that that's too much of one thing, but for me rushing out the door, I can heat that up and a lot of times I'll pair it with like a, or the pumpkin muffin that's on our, on our website.

Now, I realize that there's not that much pumpkin in it, so I'm pretty low on veggies at that point. But then I try to make up for it later when I'm getting into lunch. And with, like you're saying, we have busy schedules, I have three active kids, I work full time, I try to exercise five to seven days a week.

I'm a extrovert, so socializing is very high on my priority list too. So I need to plan to make sure all that can happen and feed myself well. So after breakfast, three to four hours later, I really need to have a like a good, good lunch.

LEAH: Yeah. You know, a solid meal there.

TERESA: And I'm like you, I kind of, I tend more towards the five ounces of protein side. I feel like I feel a little bit better. And like you, I also do a salad. But instead of for breakfast, I have that at lunch and I will eat off of that all week. And it's very similar. Once again, you can find this at most grocery stores, like the cabbage slaws or the or the broccoli slaws or all those that kind of precut things, not the ones that come with the dressing with them. Although those would work too. I just don't like throwing away all that plastic.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: But there's, you can just use that; little bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix it up. Maybe throw some blueberries or pomegranate seeds or something in it for just a little bit of a sweet pop in that salad. Pair that with a protein: protein, fat, carb, super fast, super easy. It's packable to take to work, and it's delicious. However, we are coming into the colder months.

LEAH: Yep. We're already here. Let's be honest.

TERESA: Let's be honest. It's December. I rather than having a cold salad, which doesn't sound quite as good for lunch, usually what I'll do as I'm making dinner, planning for the lunches coming ahead, if the oven is already on, throwing in a pan of veggies so that I can have roasted vegetables to use for the lunches instead.

It's like you're not even cooking a separate thing because the things are already happening. You're already in the kitchen. You might as well just throw some stuff on a, on a baking sheet and off you go. And it's very easy to find a lot of vegetables that are precut at the grocery store. I mean, you can find butternut squash. You can find cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, all these things. You can just literally just throw it in a bowl, cover it with oil, salt and pepper in the oven. And then 20 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on how cooked you like them, we're ready to go.

LEAH: Yeah. So simple but tasty.

TERESA: But tasty. Yeah. Throw some chicken in the instant pot. You've got protein, you've got your veggies, you know, maybe we pair a fruit with it. Maybe you put some peanut butter on your fruit or some whatever, you know, you can really just simplify the process.

LEAH: Yeah. And kind of tagging onto the dinner idea to, one thing I found this really helpful, especially after I had my second child, is that, when we just need to keep things simple, when you know it's going to be a busy, stressful time. You know, for a few months or even for a month or whatever, I will just make a list of my favorite like 10 to 15 recipes, dinner recipes.

And then when I am meal planning for the week, I just go to that list and pick off that list. There might be some repetition. It might, you know, after a month or two, it might get a little old and then you can freshen it up, but it just keeps it simple so that it's not having to look at this website, this cookbook, and just, and try to draw that inspiration.

It's like you kind of make that compiled list, your go-tos, and you just work off of that. And it's not a forever thing. It's just to get you through those more challenging times, those more stressful times or when things are really more intense.

TERESA: Yeah. Like this month of December when you just don't need a whole lot of creativity. You've got to use that in other places.

LEAH: Absolutely. Yep. So our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It is a simple yet powerful message that eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us today.

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