Working with clients over the past 12 years has clued me into some trends that are prevalent across the board. One of those, and today’s topic is: The Halloween Slide.
Historically, Halloween can mark the start of our swift descent into Holiday Hell…..nutritiously speaking. Bags of candy make their way from store shelves to our pantry shelves where they become colorful little bags of sweet temptation. Indulging a bit on Halloween is fun and I certainly do it, but I am now keenly aware that October 31 is when the buttons on my jeans start to get more difficult to fasten….I can blame the dryer, and I often do, but my dryer works just fine….it’s my hand in the candy bag that’s the problem.
Something gets triggered psychologically that tells me that it’s okay to start letting my good habits slide. Maybe it’s the cold weather, the shorter days, my instinctual desire for warmer, richer foods, the desire to stay under the covers in bed, the lack of variety of seasonal veggies, the knowledge that Thanksgiving and Christmas foods are right around the corner, or a combination of all. Here’s the deal: If we are seeking to live and eat with the seasons, the above list is normal, natural, and biological! So, let’s not fight the season, let’s live nutritiously within the season, because each season has much good to offer our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Here are some of my tips, starting with:
COLD WEATHER/SHORTER DAYS: Our desire for salads, which are a wellness staple, starts to wane because our bodies want and need warmer foods to stay healthy during colder months. My suggestion is to trade your salads for pots of cooked greens. You will get the nutrition you need as well as the internal warmth. (Recipe below) We also tend to rise earlier and go to bed earlier this time of year, so consider moving your dinner time up by 30 or 60 minutes. This helps allow your body time to digest your evening meal before going to bed.
Choose a few types of organic greens: Dandelion, Collards, Kale, Beet greens, Bok Choy, whatever! Just mix them up. Rinse them, chop them and set aside.
Sautee an onion in olive oil till it’s translucent. Add some fresh chopped garlic, you decide amount. Toss the chopped greens into the pot, season with salt and pepper and stir. Add 2 cans of organic peeled whole tomatoes and sort of mash them up or squeeze them into pieces with your hands. Add a carton of organic chicken stock. Bring the greens to a boil, then turn the heat way down and let it all simmer for about 45 minutes. Season with coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and sea salt and pepper. When the greens are all cooked down and glossy, double check your seasonings, then serve plain or over some pre-made farro or quinoa. Top with kimchee or fermented vegetables. The greens alone can be just a side for an animal protein dish as well.
DESIRE FOR WARMER/RICHER FOODS: We touched on this above, but the desire for thick stews and meats and dense casseroles in the winter is natural. Our ancestors had to put on weight during the cold months because food was scarce. They were on a “store fat mission” every time they ate and it was purely for their survival. Cold temperatures trigger the same survival instinct in us today, but there’s a big difference: Food is not scarce. If you are reading this blog, you are likely not starving or suffering from lack of resources. Let’s enjoy winter foods while being aware that our instinctive desire to store fat might remain, but is no longer necessary. Portion control, while staring at a bubbling, cheesy casserole might be difficult, but it’s not impossible. If you need help understanding proper portion sizes, or how to create a balanced plate that nourishes, but does not “stuff” you, please reach out to me for a private consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org
I rock my crockpot and big red cast iron pot all fall and winter long. I make soups and stews that warm my body and flood it with nutrients. To any soup, I will add huge handfuls of greens….they wilt down into the soup but their nutrients infiltrate the whole pot! I drizzle my soups with avocado or olive oil for added healthy fat. I sprinkle hemp seeds over the top for added fat and fiber, and may even shred some raw cheese….just for added taste and comfort!
THE DESIRE TO STAY UNDER THE COVERS: is so natural during the winter! We slow down; we go inward; we seek to conserve energy rather than expend it—we are in instinctively in hibernation mode. Again, our ancestors did this in part because there was no land that needed to be worked in the winter, and they were storing up energy for the physical demand that would come in the spring. Our lives remain pretty much the same from season to season and even though we don’t want to move as much, it’s important that we do.
I suggest giving yourself a little extra time to move from the warmth of your bed into the chilly air of your bedroom. Have slippers and a robe waiting for you beside the bed and head to the kitchen for some warm lemon water. Get your blood flowing while still in your pj’s with some stretching or a quick yoga flow….and then put on your workout clothes. The transition will be less abrupt and your body will be more ready and willing to comply with a workout or a run outdoors. Additionally, make sure you stay hydrated in the cold months….we think about hydration when we are sweating in the summer’s heat, but our bodies need hydration when they are dried out in the cold, too. Hot herbal tea hydrates and gives warmth to our cold bodies….skip the ice in your liquids and drink them warm or room temperature. Your body is already working harder to stay warm during the winter….help it out by eating and drinking warmer foods/beverages.
To sum up, my suggestion is not to fight against winter cold, but to work with it….remaining aware that there is an age-old drive in us to put on a bit of weight, snuggle in, and slow down. In moderation, that’s okay, but if we are not in check, we might be in tears by January 1. Take good care of you—-if you need me, reach out for help in creating a game plan that works for/nourishes your life this winter.