Transitioning from Winter to Spring based on the Innate Wisdom of Seasonal Nutrition
Callicarpa bodinieri (Bodinier's beautyberry)
Diet & Nutrition
Transitioning from Winter to Spring based on the Innate Wisdom of Seasonal Nutrition
Changing your diet to suit the shifts in seasons will open your taste buds up to new experiences
By Mark Zuleger-Thyss
Changing your diet as the seasons gracefully take turns moving from one to the next is smart and healthy. There are plenty of reasons why eating seasonally optimizes the body's functioning. Doing so ensures you're getting the freshest, most mineral-rich food available. Start off the new year right and explore your connection to the powerful innate cycles of nature.
Natural cycles drive key life-sustaining processes. These seasonal cycles unwrap a constant and ongoing exchange of elements between air, earth, water, plants, and animals.
Spring is a time of metamorphosis and enlightenment, and the shift from winter to spring is the most important transition of the year. Even the healthiest person needs a "tune-up" with the change of the seasons. Nutrients are interwoven into part of every cell that guides your body's ongoing regeneration. Your brain, skin, hormones, genes, immune system, and even your hair, fall in tune with nature through the food you eat.
The weather and microbes make dramatic changes during this time. Seek balance with these changes by learning about the innate wisdom of seasonal nutrition.
Winter microbes gear up to keep your body warm. Digesting heavier foods assists microbes in burning fat, promoting weight loss, stabilizing mood, and renewing energy.
Spring is an Exciting Time | it signals a fresh start
Working at your desk or sitting on the couch all winter begs you to prepare for the upcoming season. To avoid common spring health issues like allergies and joint aches, lighten up your foods and get the body moving again. As the spring season arrives, you will begin craving healthier food, including fruits and vegetables, instead of those winter yearnings for heavy food.
Seasonal Nutrition and the Energetics of Food | going from darkness to light
Follow these dietary tips to elevate your wellbeing. Foods affect our energy, body functions, and mood. Some foods are warming and energizing, while others are cooling and cleansing. To prepare for spring, swap winter stews in favor of cooler, greener, lighter foods. Balance your body during this shift by including foods like broccoli, green beans, zucchini, carrots, and seaweeds.
Four foods to help you transition from the darkness of winter and inactivity to the energy of light and action
Spring is the season of new beginnings and movement away from patterns of indulgence, hibernation, and the stillness of winter.
In the winter, we often crave carbohydrates more than in the spring. This is because our bodies want to increase fat stores to keep us warm and provide extra energy when it's cold outside. Transition to the spring foods by swapping out white rice, bread, and pasta for whole grains.
Whole grains are an excellent source of nutrition used to balance blood sugar levels. They provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to keep your family healthy.
Grains fall into two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire kernel — the bran, germ, and endosperm. Steer clear of refined grains as they are void of nutritional value.
One way to introduce whole grains to your family's diet is to start with breakfast. Choose a fiber-rich, whole-grain breakfast cereal like oatmeal. You might add whole-wheat toast, too.
Choose whole grains over refined ones when selecting bread, bagels, pasta, and other grains. Whole grains contain dietary fiber, which may help reduce your risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, and constipation. And remember, more dietary fiber per serving will keep you feeling full longer.
Experiment with different grains such as millet, quinoa, sorghum, whole rye or barley, and oats. To remove irritating acids, soak grains in water with a splash of lemon juice for about 5 hours.
Cooling, Moistening Proteins and Foods
Traditional Chinese medicine stresses that some foods can cool down the internal temperature of the body. TCM applies this knowledge to healing practices through dietary recommendations as nutritional needs change through the different seasons. This harmonious concept of "yin and yang" maintains that health is a matter of preserving a good internal balance through the foods we consume.
"Cool" or "yin" foods and cool proteins decrease the temperature inside our bodies and tend to be lower in calories while higher in potassium. Fresh cold drinks and water are also in this cool/yin category.
Animal sources of protein like ocean fish and lean chicken are the ones to choose from. Sesame and flaxseed oil are also cooling. Sautéing and steaming are the best ways to prepare foods. Broiling and roasting tend to dry out foods, thereby removing the moisture you want. Other cooling meats include turkey, rabbit, and whitefish.
Vegetables and fruits contain very high concentrations of water and will keep your body on the cool side. These include celery, cucumbers, grapefruit, melons, peaches, strawberries, and sweet peppers.
Leafy Greens, Spring Foods, and Herbs
Each new season elicits strong emotional responses within us. These seasonal "experiences" are linked to how humans have evolved. Consuming seasonal foods gives the body and mind the nutrients they need to support healthy digestion and detoxification.
Leafy greens and vegetables are exactly what your body will crave coming out of winter. A lighter spring diet made up of seasonal greens will be a revelation as you see your energy levels rise.
The bitterness present in kale, chard, spinach, and other greens such as cabbage, parsley, and zucchini will likely improve your digestion, too. Cleansing bitter green foods may help to reduce allergies and harmful cholesterol.
Greens are cooling and detoxifying for the liver, encouraging the flow of bile, which is digestive and laxative. Choosing high fiber greens like cruciferous vegetables, think of celery here, will also aid good digestion.
Blue & Red Berries and Beautyberries
Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and elderberries are critical for life on earth. They are rich in dimethyl resveratrol and dozens of other phytochemicals, amino acids, and coenzymes. They also contain compounds that stop excess adrenaline from causing damage to organs.
If you want to open your taste buds up to new experiences, try raw fresh beautyberries. They have a unique and incomparable flavor. Some people say they taste like green tea without honey. Beautyberries or Callicarpa bodinieri (pictured at top) are mildly sweet and have spicy notes akin to Asian five-spice. They're used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for treating inflammation and bleeding disorders. They may also have antiviral and antibacterial benefits.
Red berries, blueberries, and cherries are delicious sources of iron required to fortify the blood and improve circulation. The dark, rich pigment found in these colorful berries contains antioxidants that boost energy, immunity, and fight free radical damage.
Tart cherries and their juice are rich in melatonin, a hormone responsible for drowsiness. It is critical in regulating the sleep-wake cycle in humans. Tart cherries provide a safe and effective way to treat insomnia and increase the amount of sleep you get each night.
Tart cherries are astringent and help to move out excess leaking conditions like sweating and frequent urination. They remedy fatigue, diabetes, gout, arthritis, and rheumatism by eliminating excess body acids. While they might look small, cherries deliver all the lymph-moving and fatty tissue-cleansing properties that other berries do.
Foods in Transit | Food Miles & Climate Change
In-season fruits and vegetables are more flavorful and nutritious. Fruits can lose vital nutrients, such as vitamin C, during shipment.
Grocers can source food from anywhere around the world at the tap of a computer key. Food shipped over such great distances to get to your table adds to its price tag. “Food miles” increases the carbon footprint - a significant contributor to greenhouse gases and climate change. “Farm-to-table” means your food came directly from a specific farm without going through a market or distributor. Whether you grow your own or buy locally, foods are usually more affordable and better for your community.
Shamans from countless traditions believe that plants can speak to us—they call to us. By refining what we take in with our senses, we can begin to hear and respond to plants, crossing the boundary of the physical world of plants and discovering the higher consciousness of plant life.
Life is a transformative process — one of cultivation, experience, and refinement. The foods you consume form every cell of your body. Aligning to the unique energy of each phase, as seasonal nutrition suggests, is vital in cultivating adaptable and resilient health all year round.
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