Whether you're putting together a formal wedding for 300 guests or throwing a destination bash for 20 of your nearest and dearest, planning your big day can feel a touch overwhelming at times. (Or, downright overwhelming depending on how many times a day you're fielding questions from curious family members.) Fortunately, the key to easing that anxiety may be in your refrigerator. (No, we don't mean that tub of rocky road ice cream.) "Foods can be beneficial," swears dietitian and B Nutritious founder Brooke Alpert. "When it comes to my brides, there are a bunch I recommend having an every day basis to keep stress levels down." So before you dive head first into a bag of cookies—or snap at your mom—check out this list of nutrient-rich eats.
These crunchy snacks are high in magnesium, a mineral that acts as a natural relaxant, says Alpert: "It really helps with chilling out your brain." Other magnesium-rich foods include artichoke, kidney beans, sunflower seeds, and avocado. And the latter two, along with nuts, are full of healthy fats, "which are great for healthy skin," says Alpert. "For brides, that's a two-for-one."
Due to a high concentration of organic alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, this vegetable "has a calming effect on the nervous system," says Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author. "It also contains compounds called pthalides that reduce stress hormones and relax the muscles around the arteries, allowing blood vessels to dilate."
Tryptophan—that ingredient we blame for making us sleepy post-Thanksgiving dinner—is actually quite calming, says Alpert. The amino acid "is automatically converted in the body to serotonin," she explains, "and serotonin just makes our body feel better." But tryptophan doesn't just lurk in turkey. Any quality protein, such as salmon, tuna, or chicken, will be chock full of it.
Consuming iron-rich foods—such as these seeds, legumes, and sea vegetables like kelp—"improves your mood and helps combat stress," says Snyder. "The iron also keeps your red cells pumping oxygen to avoid exhaustion, depression and irritability."
Though the powder is not the tastiest thing ever, admits Alpert, it "naturally helps produce serotonin in the body." The vegan supplement also helps control blood sugar levels, she adds, "which prevents you from feeling hangry." She suggests mixing it into to a morning smoothie or adding it to water and just gulping it down.
The leafy vegetables contain chlorophyll and magnesium, says Snyder, author of the Beauty Detox book series and Radical Beauty, "both of which ease stress and help prevent you from overtaxing your adrenals."
Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and yogurt, help keep your gastrointestinal tract strong, says Alpert. And when you have a healthy gut "your levels of emotions and behavior signals tend to be better under control."
There's a reason people find the hot beverage soothing. Herbal tea is an adaptogen, says Snyder, which means "it helps balance the body and protects it from the effects of different kinds of stressors."
According to Alpert, good quality dark chocolate—anything made with at least 70 percent cacao—"has neurotransmitters that lead to positive feelings in the brain." Indulge away!