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New Year, New Nourished You: Eating Seasonally in the Winter

For many people, New Year’s resolutions include trying to be healthier, eat better, or lose weight. A popular trend is to choose a detox or cleanse program to reach these goals. But, these are not always the best choice for the winter season. Read on to find out why, and what you can do instead!

You may be surprised to learn that your diet should change depending on the time of year. This idea goes way back to a time before packaged foods or refrigeration. People ate what was available, depending on the time of year and what environment they were in. Here in the Northeast, there is not much vegetation in the wintertime. Animal meat was a primary source of food, and the diet included more fat and calorie dense food to survive the winter.

That’s all well and good, but what does it mean for us living in the modern world? In the viewpoint of TEAM (Traditional East Asian Medicine), eating foods that are in season will help to keep us in optimum health, in sync with the cycles of nature. In the winter, our diet should be predominantly warm and nourishing, to balance the cold weather outside.

We have been hard-wired to believe that if we want to be healthy, salads, raw vegetables, and morning smoothies are the best way to go--regardless of the time of year. But, if we look through this lens of seasonal eating, that’s not really the case. In fact, eating a lot of these things can be less than beneficial for many people, especially if you are prone to digestive issues, feeling cold, or fatigue.

I’ve experienced this first hand. Some years ago, in an effort to be “healthier” in the new year, I started juicing in the morning. After about a week, I had daily headaches and diarrhea. I shifted my focus from trying to cleanse my body of all its “toxins” to nourishing my body and giving it what it needed to feel warm and comforted. And sure enough, after changing my diet (and my mindset) I started to feel better and stronger, feeling the healing happening from the inside.

(There is a time for gentle cleansing and detox, which is the springtime. We’ll talk more about that in another blog post when the time comes.)

New Year, New Nourished You: Eating Seasonally in the Winter,

Here are some ways you can incorporate seasonal eating into your life:

Include more:

  • Cooked foods (try roasting your vegetables rather than eating them raw)
  • Soups, stews, and homemade bone broth
  • Healthy fats: grass-fed butter and meat, coconut and olive oils, nuts
  • Root vegetables: carrots, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes
  • Warming spices: pepper, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, cloves
  • Black beans and navy beans
  • Hot tea/warm beverages
  • Small amounts of salty things: seaweed, miso soup
    (Salt is grounding and centering, bringing warmth deeper into our bodies during the winter months.)

Limit:

  • Cold foods and drinks: Ice cream, yogurt, smoothies, iced coffee
  • Raw Foods: raw vegetables/salads, sushi


Try shifting your attention and intention this new year: think about NOURISHING your body, rather than CLEANSING it. Live in harmony with the energy of the season; your body will thank you for it.