We are in full swing of the fall season, and with that is the coming winter months when the days are getting even shorter, there is more of a chill in the air and there are an increasing number of indoor activities and gatherings.
With all of this comes the need to think about ways to keep our systems in a state of health and wellness, as well as ways to keep our insides warm and nourished.
During the fall and winter months, when it is colder outside, we may find that we are craving warmer foods like soups and stews and dishes that bring us comfort. When we eat these types of foods, our bodies don’t have to fight as hard to stay warm.
There are several theories about why we have these cravings in the colder seasons. Some of this is linked to the gut and brain connection. As I have said many times, sunlight and exercise trigger dopamine and serotonin, the “feel-good” hormones. In the colder months when we have less of that, those comfort foods can release some of those same hormones, which also can make us feel happy when we are feeling off.
Historically, our bodies needed to eat some of these foods as a way to fatten ourselves up to get through the long, harsh winter months. We can also relate these cravings to our childhood. We tend to desire foods we were raised on that bring us comfort, and if we were given these foods as a child, eating them now can bring that sense of home and of connection.
As with everything, we have choice about how and what we prepare. There are ways to modify some of our childhood versions of what brings us comfort in order to treat our bodies better.
For example, if making things like chicken pot pie or other comfort casseroles, rather than using the canned, processed soup that many of us were raised on, consider making a homemade roux or sauce. Consider swapping out packaged crusts and make a homemade version with healthier flour and less-processed ingredients.
Get creative with seasonal fruits and vegetables such as squashes, pumpkin, beets, apples and sweet potatoes. Go online and research recipes to make healthy versions of chilis, curries, soups and stews. There are also a variety of whole grain recipes you can play with, such as using quinoa and adding a variety of yummy and seasonal options. For all of you pasta lovers, I know this is going to sound crazy, but spaghetti squash and zucchini are both delicious options to white pasta!
When cooking, consider adding warming spices such as turmeric, cardamom, ginger, curry or cinnamon among others to aid in digestion and heat up the system. Cut up apples and steam them in a little bit of water, add cinnamon and other warming spices and you have an incredibly nourishing and delicious dessert.
Last but not least, one of my favorite ways to warm my system in the colder months is by drinking a small amount of Fire Cider a day. I typically make my own version of this by following Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe. It is an herbal remedy that combines horseradish root, ginger, onion, garlic, jalapeño, rosemary, turmeric, lemon, apple cider vinegar and honey. It does take at least four week to prepare so you do need to plan ahead. For those of you who have no interest in making such a concoction, Dancing Willow Herbs, a local herbal shop, has an amazing version of this warming and immune-enhancing elixir. It is delicious!
Let’s keep our bodies warm and nourished this season!
Jennifer Roe is a master level Red Hat Qigong practitioner, an integrative nutritional health and wellness coach, a facilitator of women’s circles, programs and more. For more information, visit www.thehealingroe.com.