Seasonal Eating: Finding balance with food

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Picking Fall Fruit

Have you felt it yet – the little shift that happens in human chemistry as the weather gets colder?  The sudden cravings for rich, earthy foods: root veggies, soups and stews and (at least in our house), the crazy urge to bake?
The Traditional Chinese Medicine model promotes balance between our diet and the environment.  When we eat seasonally this happens naturally and we spend our spring/summer eating light, cooling yin foods and our fall/winter eating nurturing, warming yang foods.  When we subscribe to diets and food-myths this becomes stressful.  For example, a woman who believes that she is supposed to eat salads and fresh fruit all the time in order to maintain her weight gets stressed out about the fact that she really wants potatoes, bread, sugar and meat right now and agonizes over the resulting weight gain.
Part of the problem is that your body wants to gain weight right now. It is completely normal and healthy to gain 5-7lbs over the fall.  Why is that?  Because up until the last few generations, colder weather meant that food was going to become more scarce.  Your body doesn’t see a few extra pounds as a bad thing, it sees them as stored energy to keep you warm and moving in the event that food supplies get a little low in the approaching winter.  One of the easiest ways to stay healthy through this season is to acknowledge this need and work with it, rather than against it.
We do this by providing the body with extra calories and sweets in the form of good fats, root veggies and whole grains.  Listen to your body’s cravings: is it bread that looks so appealing right now?  Cook up a pot of nutrient-rich barley and eat it with some butter and salt instead.  Are sweets calling your name? Root veggies are starchy and sweet providing a nice little blood-sugar surge without the ice-cream headache.  They are also full of vitamin A and carotenoids that will boost your immune system through the winter.  Try adding good fats in the form of flax, hempseed or coconut oils or combinations like Udo’s Choice Oil or Optimal Omegas to your foods. A little goes a long way to stave off fatty food binges.
And, every once and awhile, go ahead and indulge.  Just don’t forget to share!

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