Eating with the seasons is a framework for living that goes back to basics and helps simplify all the jargon about what’s healthy and what’s not. It’s about eating a whole foods diet that helps bring joy back into eating, cooking and living in a way that no “diet” can. It releases the grip of shoulds and should nots and helps us move into our body’s language. Cooking with the seasons can help bring enthusiasm and joy into your daily routine of living. It can help you re-balance your body, your metabolism and your life, if necessary. In an effort to help simplify all the confusion about clean eating and balanced living, I have found that living in tune with the natural rhythms of the seasons is a compass that guides me. When I’m feeling a little off kilter I tune in to what’s going on seasonally, eat seasonal foods, observe what’s growing, exercise outside, or just sit outside for a time. This is very grounding and therapeutic and helps to keep me in tune to my body and soul. Staying in touch with the seasons helps me to ﬁnd my soul expression. I delight in the subtle changes of light and color, the ﬂowers and trees that offer so much variation, and the changes in weather. The cold windy weather of winter always makes the thought of a hot sticky summer that much nicer.It makes sense to take a little time each day to notice what is happening all around me, and what is happening right inside. Where am I shifting and what is my body trying to tell me?
The stillness of winter has a language all its own. The voice of nature is a silent purity that expresses the moving inward, the dying of the old, the hibernation of plants and animals that brings out the voice of silence. The quiet stillness permeates the air as though a veil has settled over the earth to hush the noise. When I go walking at this time of year, I love that hushed stillness as it soothes my soul. With the leaves off the trees, I can peer into the woods to see the streams and the animals and there is more depth and expanse to the view.
The Holidays bring a change from the orange and browns of fall to the red and greens and blue of winter. Twinkle lights appear to help us feel warm and fuzzy and bring light to all the long dark days. There’s a time of quiet celebration before we settle into the winter routine of inner growth. Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 and marks the longest night of the year. The sun reaches its most southern point in the sky at local noon. After this night the days start getting longer. It’s a nice day to celebrate quietly and reﬂect on what the year has delivered and where one is in their acceptance and gratitude. With winter comes the longer nights and the colder days where we usually end up inside quite a bit. It is a time to be quiet, stay warm and rest more fully. This is the season when I take more time to develop my inner growth by reading meaningful books, meditating, writing, and thinking. It’s the perfect time to bring out that inner creativity and watch it work. Doing outside activities in the cold weather helps me to stay healthy, builds my immune system, keeps my spine and joints ﬂexible, and helps me feel refreshed. I ﬁnd it very soothing to walk or snowshoe in the quiet winter woods.
My thoughts on shifting into winter…INNER WARMTH, REST, SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Winter is the end of all the seasons. Our diet needs to shift to reﬂect this weather and it’s a good time to eat heavier foods and more good fats. We love to hear about warm, hearty soups and stews, roasted root vegetables, and hot oatmeal with cinnamon. Foods need to be cooked longer and slower, with less water and at lower temperatures. Slow cookers work so well in this season as does roasting! This is also the time to eat more bitter foods like; turnips, celery, escarole, endive, oats, quinoa, and watercress. Citrus peel is also bitter, as well as herbs like chicory root, burdock root and horsetail. Try adding these to your tea. It is also the season of salty taste to bring body heat deeper into the body. Cook with seaweeds, miso, soy, sea salt, barley and millet. As Paul Pitchford says, “Use small regular amounts in winter to nurture deep inner experiences and preserve joy in the heart.”
According to Chinese physiology the element of winter is water. This is the” essential medium of the body through which all things pass…People with deﬁcient water energy may ﬁnd it difﬁcult to slow down, relax, or rest, and an inability to reﬂect clearly.” (Elson Haas) The organ associated with the season is the kidney which in turn affects the bladder, ears, and adrenal glands. The kidneys are the root of the body, providing energy and warmth. They ﬁlter the blood and keep the body clean and in balance and as such govern our life force. “It is the seat of willpower, generates ambition and the desire to do something with one’s life.” (Elson Haas). “Kidney imbalances can show up in bone problems (especially knees, lower back, teeth), hearing loss and ear infections, head/hair problems like hair loss and premature graying, urinary, sexual, and reproductive imbalances, poor growth and development of mind and body, and, excessive fear and insecurity.” (Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods) The water element emotion is fear and “fear is deeply rooted”. In Chinese medicine It is said that excessive fear and general insecurity about life can injure the kidneys, or, weak kidneys generate fearful feelings and block loving experiences. “By restoring the kidneys to any signiﬁcant degree, one typically feels a tremendous elation as the dark cloud of fear lifts.”(Pitchford).