Winter is a powerful time - a time to conserve our energy and resources. Special care needs to be taken in the form of nutrition, warmth and rest. Winter is a more inward and sensitive time. The climates of cold and wet (rain, snow, fog) chill us and require us to seek extra warmth and home time. It is even a time when some of us feel sad (heard of the blues?) which can be connected to loss of loved ones around Christmas time, less healthy food, or less sunshine. It can definitely be a hard season and I know I struggle with it, being an Osoyoos native (Canada's pocket desert, yes it exists) my heart pounds for the heat-drenched sand of July, the warm waters of August, a cold beer by the pool-side...... well, now, where were we?
Oh right - the winter blah's.
Some of us may find balance through this time, others may find the balance tipped and do get sick. There is a nasty virus making it rounds through families right now, My post about what to do if that's already happening!
In Holistic Nutrition, we tend to rely on traditional wisdom over newfangled technology for cold or flu prevention.
One way we can keep clean and healthy each winter is to make sure we are eating nourishing foods and drinking enough water, in the form of clean drinking water, hot teas or soups.
Traditional Chinese Medicine suggestions for keeping balance during the winter time:
///Keep back energy loose and flowing through stretching exercises AND freely expressing your feelings
(It's easier to get a "knotty back" in the winter time when we definitely don't do as much outside activity, stretching is a great idea, you could join a local yoga class or just stretch at home while watching movies)
///Increase your water intake
(Don't like plain water in this weather? Make it an herbal tea!)
///Cook, steam or bake your vegetables
(Roasted veggies feel much better than raw ones, or juices, in the winter time)
///Vegetable soups (like carrots, turnips, onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne) are right for winter - easy to digest, nutritious and warming. Soups are fantastic because we get nourishment from the foods in them, we're also getting that water intake!
///Meat eaters, enjoy more protein now then you would in summer, check out this post on picking out the best meat for your body.
///A bit more red meat is good for building the blood, heart and kidneys.
(However, too much is over-stimulating for these, the less meat you eat the more effect you'll see it has on your body. I don't strictly promote veganism, but eating a more plant-based diet with organic and local meat is recommended for everyone)
///Fruits are less available locally, so they should form only a small part of our winter diet. These tend to make us colder, solidifying the 'eat seasonal' theory that nature provides what foods work best in each season
///Cooked whole grains (brown rice, millet, etc.) make an excellent winter staple, as these complex carbohydrates burn well in the body for fuel and are good for our intestines and elimination. If we pair our grains with vegetables or beans (red aduki beans, mung beans, black beans or lentils) we will have a complete protein.
///Nuts are also good in the winter as a snack or in salads.
///Cheese eaters, feta cheese from sheeps' milk is easier to digest and a bit better on your body to handle in the winter
A diet which is mainly carbohydrate and protein will produce the heat we needed without adding too much weight, however we do still want to keep up our exercise until the spring comes so when we change our diet then again we may cleanse and lighten up.
...and by carbohydrate, I mean vegetables and grains - not potato chips :)
Want to cleanse? (Lots of folks ask for a New Years cleanse) .... a good intestinal cleanse targeted at our small intestine is the following simple meal:
Cook together equal parts of brown rice, lentils, and sunflower seeds. Eat 1-2 cups daily for the duration of your cleanse.
This fibre and vegetable protein will cleanse and tone the small intestine, and also improve body heat.
So, winter time. Time to relax and eat well.
Drink herbal tea.
Take long baths.
Doesn't winter just make you want to light a fire, and snuggle down?
....cuddle up in bed?
With some tea, good tunes, or a good book?
Guess what - that's okay!!
Rest is key.
Rest the way that makes you feel best.
Be it TV, movies, music, friends, sleep.
It focuses our body in on itself. It helps us heal. Sleep helps even more. Sleep is good, real good. And easier to do, when its dark and dreary.
What's your favourite way to relax?
Turn on a good movie? Read a book. Paint something?
Paint something while listening to good tunes?
Bake something? Pet your animals? Organize something?
Make the best pot of tea you've ever had?
Light candles? Take a walk?
Whatever makes you feel relaxed, make sure to do that more regularly.
You owe it to yourself! Take good care this winter.