Nourishing Your Body Throughout the Seasons
Jan 04, 2014 01:56AM
Winter is more than a time to bundle up by the fireplace and enjoy warm hot chocolate. It’s a time to transition away from the warm summer months and into the cleansing season of spring.
As each new season approaches, I am reminded of the natural cycles and rhythms of life. They cannot be denied. Blankets of snow melt, giving way to nourished soil for the spring harvest. Just as our wardrobes change, so do the nutritional needs of our bodies. Our diets should reflect these seasonal changes.
A visit to your local market will familiarize you with the three growing and harvest seasons. As snow melts and spring rains falls, the ground gives way to sprouts and bitter greens, cleansing our bodies from a winter of heavier foods. Warm summer sun feeds bright fruits and vegetables, high in carbohydrates, to help sustain our energy for longer days and more activity. As fall approaches, we prepare for the cold blistery months, harvesting and storing up for winter. With snow having already fallen, we are well into this season.
Traditionally, we consume heavier meals in the winter. Nuts, oil, fat and protein provide more insulation for the cold. Protein, fat and carbohydrates are beneficial for every season, but the quantities will change depending on the season. A good balance for winter is 40 percent protein, 30 percent fat and 30 percent carbohydrates. Grains contain a good amount of essential fatty acids. If you eat red meat, winter is the season to indulge. Choose wisely–grass fed and organic. For those vegetarians out there, enjoy more seeds, nuts and lentils. The more we feed the body what it needs each season, the less we will have to deal with cravings for the wrong foods later in the year. Do not trouble yourself with measuring; simply add more protein and fat to your meals. Listen to your body. Natural cravings for grains, seeds, nuts and fat will lead you in the right direction.
Although the winter months in our northern climate produce no fruit, other climates do. Avocado and banana are heavier fruits that are high in fat, provide warmth and are a rich source of potassium. According to Dr. John Douillard, author of The 3-Season Diet, when we enter into winter without first cooling our bodies, we are more susceptible to colds and flu. The accumulation of warm summer heat, with the dryness of winter, can wreak havoc on our health. Apples and pears provide the perfect antidote; they are rich with fiber to cleanse our intestinal tract, while their coolness helps to reduce the heat from summer. Oranges are also great during the dry winter months, providing high water content. Warm, oily foods also help to hydrate our bodies. When our bodies become dry in the winter, we produce more mucus in the spring time. This may present as a cold, flu, allergy, asthma or overgrowth of intestinal yeast. Nature helps to combat this by providing bitter greens in the spring, to scrape mucus from the intestines, cleanse the blood and support liver function. These greens also support healthy bacteria in our intestinal tract, a natural defense against parasites and opportunistic bacteria.
As you enjoy the fall harvest this winter, indulge. Eat larger quantities; food provides warmth. It is normal to gain a few pounds this season. After heavier foods in the winter, your body will crave more raw, lighter foods in the spring.
Melissa Windsor, DC is a chiropractor and nutrition and lifestyle coach at Restorative Health in NW Washington.