Every fall and winter I see the same pattern. I see client after client craving sugar, bread, and chocolate, and they are struggling with food. Their diet that felt lovely and satisfying just a few months ago is feeling unappetizing. This is quite simple to fix, but it involves looking at food at a slightly different angle. Instead of just looking at your food in terms of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc), try looking at the food you eat by how it FEELS. I find that real health comes with this slight shift.
So, what does this mean? Check in after eating a meal and see how you feel. Do you feel light and happy? Or tired and sluggish? Do you feel warm and satisfied? Or cold and craving sugar?
Once you start to notice how your food feels, you’ll notice something very interesting…eating a crisp green salad on a cold and cloudy day doesn’t feel very good. And eating a hot bowl of squash and ginger soup really does.
We need to shift our diet each season for our body to feel healthy and happy. A green salad, full of veggies that are picked in the height of the hot summer are cooling, and help your body cool off on a hot day. Eating these foods in the winter will cool you off too much, and your body will want something to warm you up (usually something sweet). You may also find those cold and cloudy days much more difficult. It’ll feel colder, and you may have trouble staying warm.
But, a warm, cooked meal full of winter veggies like squash, potatoes, and carrots are what your body is looking for at this time of the year. It’ll warm you up from the inside and feed your body the natural starches that can pick up your mood on a cloudy day. You may feel your sugar cravings are much lower, and that the cold weather is a bit more pleasant.
You might be thinking, but…aren’t we supposed to eat salads and raw veggies? Aren’t they the healthiest foods for us? I’m looking to lose weight, so don’t I need to eat salads? The answer is, yes and no.
Salads are beautifully healthy for us IN SEASON. In the middle of winter they can increase your cravings for refined sugar and flour (which offsets the health benefits), and can bring DOWN your mood. It’s only been in the last few decades that we’ve had summer vegetables available in winter. Our body doesn’t change very quickly, and can’t quite understand how to process them when it’s cold outside. And they must be shipped a long way away, from warmer climates to get here, so the nutritional level is much lower than it is in the summer.
If you’re thinking that winter veggies cause weight gain (as per the current problematic idea that starch = excess weight), there is a theory that summer veggies, especially eaten in the winter, may cause weight gain since their job is to fatten up animals for the winter. I don’t know if this is true, but I do see them increasing refined food cravings, which can cause weight gain.
The best way to feel warm, happy, and balanced this winter is by shifting your diet to the warm and lovely winter veggies. These are truly glorious foods.
Do you need to eat salads in the winter? I don’t because I’ll feel too cold and my mood will get too low. You won’t find me eating any raw salad greens in the winter, but you will find me in the Apple Bistro enjoying a warm root veggi curry with a very big smile on my face.
Cooling foods (enjoy during warmer months): raw fruits and veggies, cucumber, salad greens, sprouts, raw tomatoes, citrus, peppermint, green tea
Warming foods (enjoy when the weather is cooler): cooked fruits and veggies, winter squash, cabbage, cooked tomatoes, avocado, root veggies, ginger, black tea, nuts and seeds, chocolate