Seasonal eating 101

So it’s hot right! We have an intelligence within us that says “Oh it’s like 80 degrees today, I’m probably not going to wear my coat”. So automatically we know to adjust our clothing to adapt to the warmer weather. So what would you think if I was to tell you that your body is as seasonal as the weather? As the temperature heats up outside it is up to us to navigate what we need to change and alter in order to not only survive but strive in the heat of summer.. I was lucky enough to give a seasonal eating talk for The Free People Movement Wellness Wednesday series, so for those of you that were unable to attend; here is a short take away of the key notes we discussed...

Our bodies naturally lean towards lighter foods in the summer months, suddenly hot soups and dense meals aren’t as appealing to the appetite. We’re far more connected to the seasons than we even realize so in order to not only survive but to thrive, we need to make some deeper changes, not just to our food and clothing but also to our rituals, our exercise, our beauty regimen even our breathing. 

+ The natural cycle of produce is perfectly designed to support our health.

Apples grow in the fall and they are the perfect transition food helping the body get rid of excess heat and cool down before winter. In the spring, the abundance of leafy greens help us alkalize, detox and loose some extra pounds after a long winter of heavier foods. In the summer we need to cool down and stay hydrated by eating more fruits, berries, cucumber, watermelon etc. Building a lifestyle around seasonal food facilitates the body’s natural healing process. Food grown outside of their season or natural environment need a lot more human assistance in forms of pesticides, waxes, chemicals and preservatives to grow and look appealing to us consumers. By choosing local and seasonal food, you are also more likely to get a cleaner product!

Living in tune with nature’s rhythm makes us more aware and appreciative of the beauty around us. We can live in balance with our surroundings instead of constantly butt up against and living in conflict with nature. Embracing the natural rhythm of things also helps simplify our lives. The options are limited and we can trust that our food is nourishing and good for us! It is important to eat with the cycles of nature and only consume food that was grown at the time you are eating it. Eating seasonally is not only better for your health, it also promotes balance with both the earth’s resources and its life forms.

The changing of the seasons is a source of natural diversity that should be embraced rather than combated. Produce picked and eaten at its peak generally has more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than foods harvested before they’re ripe and then shipped long distances.

During the summer, our bodies naturally crave light foods and small meals that are easy to digest because the digestive fire—a strong source of internal heat—disperses in order to help keep us cool. Staying fully present with your meals while savoring the flavor and texture of your food will help minimize the risk of overeating. Summer is a time to favor the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes and to relish in cool, liquid, even slightly oily foods.

+ This is the best time of year to enjoy fresh fruits and salads. It is also a great time to indulge in sweet dairy products such as ghee, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and even ice cream on occasion.

+ All unrefined sweeteners except honey and molasses are cooling and can be enjoyed in moderation during the summer months. As I have suggested on the handout I favor coconut sugar as it keeps the blood sugar levels in check and prevents spikes. Avoid artificial flavors entirely.

+ In the way of beverages to beat the heat, enjoy cool or room temperature water infused with mint or lime or cooling herbal teas such as peppermint, spearmint, licorice, fennel, nettle or rose. When you think of the digestion system, imagine a fire that heats up to process every little thing you consume. By adding ice to drinks and choosing predominantly cold foods you counteract the fire and in this instance fire is a good thing. Instead of reducing its capabilities, think about supporting it by consuming room temperature or warm to hot beverages.

Go easy on sour or unripe fruits, aged cheeses, and heating vegetables and spices such as carrots, beets, radishes, onions, garlic, ginger, and mustard seeds. Try to avoid extremely spicy foods like chilies or cayenne pepper altogether. Also keep in mind that raw vegetables (as in salads) will be better digested if they are eaten at lunch, rather than at dinner.

Foods to eat in abundance: 

-        Apples                         - Cucumber

-        Grapes                         - Tomato

-        Mangoes                      - Artichokes

-        Berries                         - Cabbage

-        Limes                           - Chard

-        Cherries                       - Fennel

-        Pears                           - Corn

-        Coconuts                     - Avocado       

-        Pineapples                   - Green beans

+ Cook with cooler oils such as coconut oils and safflower oil, avoid trans fats and heavily fried foods.