THANKSGIVING - EATING IN SEASON
By Marsha Silvestri
For this week of feasting, I wish to offer a few tips for staying healthy through the holiday season. This post is about eating in season according to foods that are naturally abundant locally for health and balance.
I've just completed a new book 101 Powerful Anti-Aging Foods for Vegans & Vegetarians, all about natural, healthy plant-based foods known for their anti-aging benefits. In it, the first category I list are fruits, particularly BERRIES as my number one choice for anti-aging. But a diet of too many fruits may not be the healthiest choice for fall or winter. (Note free offer below!)
Part of staying healthy is living and eating in harmony and balance with nature and the seasonal cycles. For anyone living in northern regions above the tropics (or in southern hemispheres below the tropics), fruits are not naturally grown or harvested year-round. Generally fruits are considered “cooling foods” best to eat during the warm months.
Great for anti-aging, but not the best for winter
Yes Berries are superfoods rich in antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, but berries may not be ideal to eat during fall, winter and the cold seasons? (An exception are cranberries.) Aside from the higher cost when out of season, most berries (and many tropical fruits) must be imported, adding to their carbon footprint. Traveling long distances, foods can get old, moldy, and lose flavor and nutritional value in transit. If picked before ripening, many fruits are either gassed to artificially ripen, or may never ripen properly and stay hard and tasteless. There's actually an old superstition against eating blackberries after September 29th, which cautions ill health or bad luck from eating them out of season. Energetically berries are best eaten in summer when naturally at their peak, as are many other foods.
Eastern vs Western Diets
Most western dietary systems focus on vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and eating for nutritional balance. They place importance on standardized food groups, outdated food pyramids, avoiding fats, calorie counting, weight loss and the clinical impact on glycemic or cholesterol levels as the basis for most modern diet plans. Many popular fad diets are too extreme for the average person to follow, and some can even be dangerous due to a lack of natural balance, causing metabolic disruptions and nutritional deficiencies.
Eastern systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, view foods more for their medicinal value and function for achieving balance and health. Macrobiotic followers believe in eating according to what is naturally abundant locally and in season. In Asian traditions, most fruits are considered “yin” as having naturally cooling properties and effects on the body. When the seasons change to colder weather, eating too many yin foods can create a “yin imbalance” in the body, which can lead to a weakened immune system and lower resistance to colds, flu or illness. Continued dietary imbalances can worsen these “cold conditions”.
According to TCM, the diet is used to balance physical health within changing environments and seasons by choosing foods for their natural qualities. These include five flavors (sweet, salty, sour, bitter & pungent) and four natures (hot, warm, cool & cold). In hot weather, certain foods can help the body naturally stay cool, (such as watermelon and other melons, peaches, cucumbers, kiwis, pineapple and strawberries). For winter and fall, those foods are better replaced with warming foods. The hot or cool natures do not refer to the temperature of the food but rather the type of energy generated in the body after consumption. In TCM foods and herbs, are often recommended as medicine according to the health conditions of the individual. Foods and diets are prescribed to strengthen and balance specific organs or meridians where imbalances are indicated.
Similar to TCM, in Ayurveda, foods are used to balance the three primary doshas (qualities, energies, elements and constitutional types). These are associated with the seasons: spring with Kapha (warm, moist, water & earth), summer with Pitta (hot, fire), and fall and winter with Vata (cool, dry, air). Diet is recommended according to an individual's constitution and also eating to balance the energy of the seasons. The natural doshas of an individual can change over time, where with aging, Vata qualities tend to increase. Mid-October–mid-February is considered the Vata season, where it's important to maintain a balance of Vata energies by eating foods that are more Kapha or Pitta in nature; warm, moist and earthy foods. Eating warm (heated or energetically warming) foods, nourishing soups, stews, hot cereals, cooked grains, dairy and sweet, sour and salty tastes are recommended. Reduce the intake of raw salads, bitter, pungent and astringent foods, cold foods, icy beverages or foods that require a lot of energy to digest. Eat more cooked dishes, warming spices, warm water, teas and abundant liquids to balance the dryness of the season.
A good way to select foods naturally in season is to shop at local farmer's markets, seeing what is most abundant. Many farmer's markets close up shop for the cold winter, resuming again in spring. During winter, local grocery stores may be the only source for fresh produce trucked in from warmer regions. In traditional societies during winter when fresh fruits and vegetables were not available, people depended on foods that could last through the winter months. Dried foods, grains, seeds and nuts, root foods that kept well in root cellars, preserved foods (such as fermented cabbages, sauerkraut, pickled foods), sweet jams and jellies, self-canned or jarred sauces, and later with refrigeration, frozen foods became more common. Over the centuries people learned to adapt to nature by eating according to the changing seasons and natural cycles of life.
In our modern society with rapid transport shipping, having access to exotic foods all year, as well as many unnatural, frozen, processed or convenience foods, the majority of the population have lost touch with the natural rhythms of nature.
Healthy Foods recommended for fall and winter include:
- Root Foods - beets, carrots, turnips, celery root, kohlrabi (German turnip), fennel, leeks, parsnips, sweet potatoes, rutabagas and Jerusalem artichoke. Garlic, onions and ginger are heat producing and also help strengthen the immune system to fight colds flu and infections.
- Vegetables - many types of squash, pumpkin, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, kale and mushrooms, are all healthy for fall-winter. Avocados, sometimes considered vegetables, are actually a fruit, are also most abundant in the fall.
- Various Nuts & Seeds - peanuts, pecans, walnuts, chestnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds are considered warming…
- Whole Grains - brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, hot oatmeal or presoaked, whole wheat breads,
- Legumes - lentils, mung beans, chick peas,
- Hot foods, warm soups, tonics, herbal teas and hot beverages can also be warming and stimulating for winter.
- Herbs and Spices - Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, basil, dill, nutmeg,
- Best Fruits for Fall include those most abundant during the harvest season, apples, pears, asian pears, pomegranates, persimmons, figs, grapes and raisins. Citrus (grapefruit, blood oranges, mandarins, quince) are also abundant in winter from tropical and sub-tropical regions..
A Thanksgiving Gift to all my readers!
For a limited time I'm offering a free digital download of my new ebook, soon to be released on Amazon. Go here now to get your free copy (a $5 value), using the discount code: VEGANLIFE101 at checkout. (This free offer may be discontinued after the book is launched on Kindle.)
Note: I'm also currently running a Thanksgiving sale of 10% off my entire store, however multiple discount codes cannot be combined at checkout. To get the free book download, complete the book order, and then return to the store to get 10% off t-shirts and other products on sale this week.
I recently added a few new products to my collections including Eco-Baby Onesies and Greeting Cards sold as packs of 10, 30 or 50, perfect for holiday cards. Eco-Baby designs focus on teaching children, starting young, to value nature and the planet. The 11 New Greeting Card designs are all appropriate for the holidays. These original art cards feature universal themes of peace, sacred art and ancient traditions. The images are spiritual, but not necessarily religious. Each card includes something special on the back about the image or subjects. If shopping for the holidays, it is best to order early to beat the Xmas rush that can take longer shipping times. The 10% Off discount code is: THANKSGIVING.
Wishing you all Many Blessings and Abundance!
© by Marsha Silvestri - PureLifePlanet.com