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Feeding the Holiday Blues

About Lisa Schmidt

Lisa Schmidt is an expert in the sciences of nutrition and behavioral health change. As a nutritional therapist, she specializes in weight loss, healthy weight promotion, and disordered eating. Other therapeutic specializations include grief, loss, anxiety, depression and couples counseling. She is on the faculty of Arizona State University’s School of Social Work, teaching courses on Mindful Eating, Sustainability, and Stress Management.

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The holiday blues are common.  Did you know you can actually change your mental state through the right combination of healthful foods? Follow these tips to feed the holiday blues.

Depression and anxiety are complex conditions that must be diagnosed by a qualified health care practitioner. Often, however, the dietary component of mental illness is overlooked. Food sensitivities, or vitamin and mineral deficiencies may worsen the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Following a few dietary guidelines, in combination with other prescribed treatments, may help to relieve symptoms.

Dietary guidelines that may help to relieve depression:

  • Follow a diet plan that prevents hypoglycemia (e.g. eliminate refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco; eat 4 – 6 small meals throughout the day; eat plenty of dietary fiber.
  • An elimination or rotation diet will help to decide whether or not you have sensitivities to particular foods.

Helpful Foods:

  • Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids for growth and repair of nervous tissue: nut, seed, cold water fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel) and vegetable oils (safflower, walnut, sunflower, flax seed), evening primrose oil (500 mg/3 times per day).
  • Foods rich in vitamin B6 – needed for normal brain function: Brewer’s yeast, bok choy, spinach, banana, potato, whole grains.
  • Foods rich in tryptophan – precursor to neurotransmitter serotonin: white turkey meat, milk, nuts, eggs, fish.
  • Liver cleansing foods – proper liver function helps to regulate blood sugar: garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussell sprouts, beets, carrots, artichokes, lemons, parsnips, dandelion greens, watercress, burdock root.
  • Magnesium rich foods – important for nerve conduction: seeds, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, soy products, almonds, pecans, cashews, wheat bran, meats.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners
  • Refined sugar and processed foods
  • Be aware of your specific food sensitivities

Try a meal or snack with fiber-rich complex carbohydrates and low-fat protein!

Tofu Salad

with Cajun Spice Dressing

6 tablespoons Cajun Spice seasoning blend 1 pound firm- style tofu or Tempeh*
1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing
4 cups organic salad greens including:
dandelion greens, watercress, arugula, baby kale, romaine, spinach 1/2 cup organic shredded carrot
1/3 cup thinly sliced fennel
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1-2 tablespoons canola oil

  1. Drain tofu, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, press briefly with paper towel to absorb excess water. If using tempeh, simply slice tempeh into 1/2-inch strips.
  2. Measure 5 tablespoons of spice mixture into shallow bowl; dip tofu/tempeh in spice mixture to evenly coat; transfer to a dry plate. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
  3. Combine remaining spice mixture with vinaigrette dressing. Blend well; let stand 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat heavy skillet. Lightly coat with vegetable oil. Pan fry tofu/tempeh for 4 – 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  5. Arrange salad greens on serving plate. Arrange tofu/tempeh evenly over greens. Garnish each salad with carrot, fennel, and red onion. Top each with two tablespoons dressing.

*Tofu and tempeh are good sources of magnesium. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to depression, irritability and confusion.

For Assistance with your own personalized nutrition program, contact THE Mindful Nutritionist, Lisa Schmidt, MS, CN. Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Virtual appointments available. (P) 480.675.4568  (email) lisa@lisaschmidtcounseling.com.

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