Even though spring is right around the corner, how you eat now and prepare for the rest of the year is extremely important and beneficial to your health. Eating with the seasons not only protects you and the environment, it also offers the opportunity to integrate your own cycles with the rhythms of the natural world, providing the freshest and most appropriate foods for each period of the year.
Winter is the end of all seasons and a time for seeking inner warmth, resting and looking inward. It’s also the time during the year when we feel the most cold and dried out. It’s more important than ever that we eat foods that add moisture and warmth back into our bodies. This is the moment during the year when you can give yourself permission to eat a bit more and allow yourself those extra fats, but make sure that you continue with an exercise program to keep your blood moving and stay in shape.
The best foods to consume in the winter are hearty soups, whole grains, nuts, avocados, heavy fruits and root vegetables. If you are not a vegan or vegetarian, this is also the best time of year to consume clean meat products. These high fat and protein content foods are warming and oily in nature, helping to counteract dryness. Some experts suggest foods that are sweet, sour or salty (however not in excess) as they too are nourishing, calming and combative to the effects of cold weather. Others suggest bitter foods due to their centering qualities. Of course if you are one of those who live in a warm climate year-round, these guidelines won’t be as applicable.
If you are unsure of which fruits and vegetables are “seasonal” where you live, given the access most of us have to imported and off-season options throughout the year, the surest and most economical way to know is to check out what’s available at your local farmer’s market, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture Program), natural food store or health co-op. Not only do in-season, organic and locally-grown foods offer the highest nutrient content (due to freshness and the best environmental growing conditions), by choosing these products you’ll also be supporting a decrease in the carbon footprint associated with food transportation.
Some other examples of great foods to consume in the winter time, in addition to those already mentioned, include bananas, grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, brussel sprouts, garlic, ginger, winter squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, amaranth, oats, brown rice, quinoa, beans, basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, cayenne pepper and turmeric. In terms of natural sweeteners, dates, figs and maple syrup are all good choices during this time.
It’s also worth mentioning that most dairy products, especially ice cream, are best eaten in moderation or avoided during the winter months for those who tend to get seasonal colds. As the beginning of winter is a time when we can easily develop excess mucus, the congestive properties of dairy products can make matters worse.
Additionally, remember that we are all built differently biochemically, genetically and metabolically, and that there isn’t a right diet for everyone. While some foods may be balancing for one person during the winter months, they may not be for another. Make sure that you are always present to your body’s specific reactions to the foods you eat and make adjustments accordingly.
In a few weeks, I will make some new recommendations for spring, our annual period of renewal when we typically eat less in order to cleanse the body from the heavier foods we needed during the winter months.
The 3-Season Diet by John Douillard
Staying Healthy with the Seasons by Elson M. Haas
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford www.mercola.com
Published On: March 04, 2010