5 Fab Foods to Help you de-Stress this Christmas | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

5 Fab Foods to Help you de-Stress this Christmas

5 Fab Foods to Help you de-Stress this Christmas

Traditional Christmas fayre that helps you turn down the heat at this busy time of year! By Juliet Gellatley, founder & director of Viva! and nutritional therapist


There’s much more to chestnuts than roasting on an open fire! They are sometimes referred to as the ‘un-nut’ because they have the goodness of other tree nuts but contain just a trace of fat and are the only nuts that contain a significant amount of vitamin C.

Chestnuts are high in complex carbs, essential for providing the brain with its glucose fuel. On a calm day, your brain eats 40 per cent of your glucose! An imbalance in supply can cause irritability, tiredness and even crying spells. Chestnuts are great because they convert into this sugar nice and slowly, giving the brain the steady supply it needs – helping you to stay in a good mood even when under pressure!

For a delicious vegan Christmas roast with a difference, try Viva!’s Deluxe Chestnut, Port and Thyme Strudel. www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk


Christmas stocking heroes! Tangerines are very low in calories(53 calories per 100 g). They are valuable sources of flavonoid anti-oxidants such as naringenin, naringin, hesperetin, carotenes, xanthins and luteins; in fact, several times higher than in oranges. These powerful nutrients fight free radical damage in the brain. Tangerines are also a very rich source of vitamin C, which is needed to make the brain messengers, dopamine and adrenaline – both are vital for coping with stress and keeping you motivated.

Brussels sprouts

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there is no denying that Brussels sprouts are extraordinarily protective of our health! They are packed with chemicals called glucosinolates which fight cancer. They are also a great source of tryptophan. Your brain converts this amino acid into serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’, which generates feelings of relaxation and happiness and gives you a general sense of well-being.

Want a new twist? Try Brussels sprouts with satay sauce. No soggy green mush here – the combination of spicy nutty sauce over slightly crunchy sprouts should convert even the most fervent sproutophobe! www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk


It seems everyone devours roast potatoes on Christmas day. Good thing too, as hidden in the humble spud is a good dose of vitamin B6, vitamin C as well as tryptophan, the forerunner to serotonin. Vitamin B6 is essential for converting protein into the key neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin for happy mood, melatonin for good sleep, adrenaline to cope with stress and GABA, which helps you feel ‘chilled.’ Respect!

For a simple variation on an old favourite, try Marmite Roast Potatoes – you’ll be amazed at how good these are! www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk


No Christmas is complete without walnuts! Not only do they taste great but are an excellent source of those hard to find ‘good’ fats – omega-3 fatty acids. About 12 halves contain 100 per cent of your daily requirements. These special fats encase about 100 billion nerve cells in your brain and they also partly control your brain messengers, or neurotransmitters. Signs of omega-3 deficiency include poor memory, mood swings and depression. So perhaps these nuts look spookily like a brain for good reason!