Is Your Diet Winterized?
What does winter look and feel like where you live? Whether you experience frigid weather and snow-blanketed landscapes, or simply a cooler time of the year, the colder, drier climate of winter requires foods that will keep us warm and moist. This warmth and moisture is exactly what the foods of the winter harvest bring.
Winter is a time for replenishing our body and building it up. It also is a time for eating foods that will protect our body from colds, flus and symptoms that can persist in these harsher months. In the wisdom of seasonal eating, when we adequately nourish ourselves in the winter, our bodies will be ready to usher in a spring cleansing diet that will shed weight naturally.
I’m not suggesting that winter be a time for weight gain. You can consume the richer, warmer foods of winter while staying healthy and caring for yourself by choosing natural and nutrient-dense options. And by eating these foods, you are not only supporting your body’s stores of certain nutrients, but helping prevent winter illness. Without this preparation, though, our bodies are not prepared to shed weight and become leaner in the spring because they are still depleted from what they didn’t receive in the winter and the imbalance continues through another season.
A winter landscape is dry and cold.
This dries out our mucus membranes. Now every individual is just that–individual. Those with more summer-type constitutions may not need as much winter-type foods to stay moist and warm even when the temperature outside drops. Knowing yourself is the first step in eating in accordance with the rhythm of nature. Learning about holistic nutrition from the major traditional theories of the world and coming to know my unique needs to stay healthy and vibrant has been one of the most life changing processes I’ve gone through and continues to inform how I keep myself and those I care for healthy.
In the winter, if we consume foods that adequately reestablish moisture to our systems then we can prevent the excessive drying that the winter brings. If we don’t keep our systems (skin, membranes, joints) moisturized, then our body will react by over-producing mucus (read stuffy noses, swollen membranes, swollen lymphs). This excess mucus is now a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses and can lead to many of the winter sicknesses we encounter.
Bring winter into your meal planning!
Foods that moisturize our systems are healthy fats, bananas, avocado, beets, winter squash, nuts, meats, and deap sea fish. These are all foods naturally available in the winter. They are the perfect antidote to the drying cold. Incorporate these foods daily if possible into your meals.
We can also utilize certain tastes to bring warmth into our systems. Winter is a wonderful season to explore many different tastes to help manage the cold.
- Salt has a warming effect in our body. Years ago, many foods needed to be salted to store through the winter. This not only extended the shelf life of foods so they were available during the months when not much is growing, but it also provided added warmth.
- Spices like cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, and ginger were used traditionally to preserve foods, and again have a similar warming effect on our bodies. If you or your children drink cow’s milk, try drinking it warm with some cinnamon, ginger or clove in it. Similar tasting to a chai tea, these spices help make the milk more digestible to our systems.
- Sour also works to warm the body. This is the reason why traditionally, meals were served with some kind of pickled side dish—to help stimulate digestion and heat the body. We often think of citrus as a summer fruit, but most citrus is coming into harvest in tropical areas as they enter their coolest times of the year, which correspond to many state’s winter months.
- Sweet flavors tend to be expansive in nature and work to balance the contractive element of winter. Slow cooked sweet foods like roasted sweet potato or beets are wonderful winter fare.
Hearty foods that are rich in taste and nutrients and which also insulate and replenish our body can be truly satisfying and allow us to enjoy this season in the best of health.
What foods do you naturally crave in the winter? How are you feeling when you crave them (cold, stressed, bored)? Why do you think they are the foods you gravitate toward?
I haven’t noticed strong seasonal tendencies in my eating but do get ongoing cravings for things at different times. More recently it has been cinnamon which I now add to my coffee for instance, and nuts/seeds. I know my body is trying to lead me in the right direction although I often don’t know exactly why. Do you have food suggestions or a resource to recommend which would help me ease osteo-arthritic inflammation? Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
I crave oatmeal in the winter. It’s one thing that gets me out of bed during the cold months.
Great info. Thanks for sharing!
@anne- that makes sense to me– warm, fiber rich, whole grains….yum!
@kika– I’ll be emailing you directly soon 🙂
I have to think about this…recently I’ve been craving potato/carrot soup with a bit of sour cream added, it is just so yummy for lunch, supper, or even a mid-afternoon snack! 🙂 I think I’ve just been more interested in soups, period, probably because of the cold. It’s been somewhat of a mild winter here where we are, but the house tends to stay on the chilly side. Anyway, great post…good ideas for paying attention to what our bodies need during the different seasons, hadn’t really thought about that before…
Loved this! I just included it in my daily post. Thanks for this insight and reminder to listen to nature and our bodies.
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