Eating In The Winter
Winter is a time for inward reflection, with Nature urging us to rest, be quiet and withdraw. This is the groundwork for spring when we will come out of hibernation and bloom. During the winter months we do well to spend more time at home resting and sleeping, as well as nourishing our bodies with heavier, wholesome food. Don’t resist this stage it’s important for the year to come and the change in season. The stronger we are physically and mentally, the more resilient we become to change.
A diet that produces more heat, to keep us warm, is needed during winter. However, we tend to be less active, so we don’t need excess or empty calories.
Less fruit would typically be eaten during the winter with it being less seasonally available but there is more focus on steamed and baked vegetables, as well as more dairy and animal proteins. Think hearty soups, stews and casseroles, potentially with more meat and some seasonal root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, turnips and squash.
The winter season relates to the water element, and this refers to the kidneys and bladder. These organs determine the water, mineral and acid base balances in the body by filtering the blood, making urine, and eliminating unneeded substances. Weak kidney energy may be experienced as low energy and vitality. The water element also relates to ocean foods such as fish and seaweed, which are also important during the winter season, allowing us to focus less on meats for protein. You could try picking up a pack of sea vegetables to add to your stews, enjoy a wholesome fish pie during the week or pick up some sushi at lunch time.
If your vegan or if you want to simply reduce your animal protein; beans and pulses can be combined with grains to produce warming chillis, stews and soups and are a great plant-based way of achieving complete protein levels. Lentil dahl with brown rice or a Moroccan chickpea tagine with quinoa offer warm, hearty, and healthy mid-week meals.
In terms of grains, millet and buckwheat are less starchy but still provide warmth to the body. You can enjoy buckwheat noodles in chicken soups or millet as a lighter alternative to porridge oats. And don’t forget to add some flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are great for mucous and inflamed conditions in the winter.
Drinking plenty of fluids is key to blood and lymphatic circulation during the winter and essential for cleansing the body through the kidneys and bladder. Go easy on the salt and opt for sea salt in cooking rather than heavily salted ready meals which dehydrate. This is a key time to enjoy warm soothing drinks, including herbals teas or moon milks. For bladder infections try marshmallow root tea or nettle tea to strengthen the kidneys.
Make good use of Cayenne pepper in soups and stews or add a dash to hot water, ginger and lemon tea – it will be sure to warm up the toes!