Last week (December 21) was the winter solstice marking the start of winter which was welcomed with a full moon, an amazing lunar eclipse, and the longest night of the year. I love this season, even though I am not a fan of the cold, winter is a time of holiday cheer, hot cocoa, family, friends, and food! I wonder though what did the cavemen do during winter? Probably what much of nature does, hibernate and nourish. The days are short, cold, and dark and the nights long. Earlier cultures spent this time indoors or around fires eating warm nourishing foods and sharing stories with families and friends or hanging out solo. I have said before that nourishment goes beyond food also being received through environment, and activities. As important as it is to eat seasonally it’s just as important to alter your environment and activities seasonally in order to fully nourish the mind and the body. Our Neolithic culture makes this slightly challenging, especially during winter when the holiday frenzy coincides with the start of the season. Sometimes the high energy of holiday shopping, over eating, and emotional overload can leave one feeling drained, stressed and stuck in a repetitive cycle partially responsible to winter weight gain. According to some Eastern Philosophies “The incongruity between winter’s restful, introspective, yin nature and the frenetic way many Americans spend their holidays can contribute to seasonal affective disorder, depression, exhaustion, and more…” often causing people to dread the winter season and sometimes be miserable (bah humbug). So what is one to do? Think of winter as “ME TIME” and utilize the last of your summer and fall energy reserves to focus on yourself and what you plan to create in the months to come, also known as setting a new year’s resolution. After the winter solstice (the longest night of the year) the days begin to slowly get longer and there is more light eventually taking us into spring when your energy begins to buzz again!
Some tips to get you through this season and stay balanced:
Take some time out for yourself either through walks, meditations, or low energy activities like reading a book.
If you like naps then this is the season for it. I am not much of a napper but my body certainly has the final word on this, when it says nap time I listen and it’s amazing how much a 20 minute nap can reenergize you.
Seasonal Foods: eating according to the season is more supportive and provides greater nourishment. Sustainable table offers a great tool for finding local and seasonal foods near you. For those of you in California here are some suggestions:
Apples, Avocados, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Christmas Trees, Cucumbers, Fennel, Grapefruit, Grapes, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Oranges, Pears, Pistachios, Potatoes, Radishes, Rutabaga, Scallions, Spinach, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Turnips, Wreathes
Apples, Asparagus, Avocados, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Fennel, Grapefruit, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Oranges, Pears, Pistachios, Potatoes, Radishes, Rutabaga, Scallions, Spinach, Strawberries, Turnips
Along with eating seasonally adding these tips to your diet will help replenish your energy and keep you and your belly cozy during the winter months.
Slow-simmered stews, beans, roasted root vegetables, and warm drinks.
Spices such as garlic, ginger, black pepper, cloves, and basil to increase the warming effect.
Minimize your intake of foods such as raw vegetables, salad greens, and cold drinks.
Take a few minutes to see how you’re feeling, if you are exhausted and drained then make some simple changes to your food and environment to help replenish that energy.
Fun Fact: The Earth is actually nearer the sun in January than it is in June — by three million miles. Pretty much irrelevant to our planet.
Happy Holidays from Nutritionize!