Tips To Transition Bodies For Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer Eating

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People get bombarded on a regular basis about health, diets and wellness, making it hard to choose which path to follow. According to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the largest nutrition school in the world, "seasonal eating" is an important aspect to maintaining health and wellness, regardless of which diet you choose. This practice, rooted deep in our ancestry, balances the body by reducing illness and increasing energy and well-being.

According to Joshua Rosenthal, Integrative Nutrition's founder and primary instructor, when people are in tune with their bodies, they notice they crave foods in season. For example, in spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens. This particular craving is due to the consumption of winter's seasonal foods, consisting of heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat. In the heat of summer, cravings consist of cooling foods like fruit. The fall enhances grounding food cravings, like squash and nuts to prepare for the winter season. In order to balance the food with the elements of the season which will strengthen our connection to our surroundings, Rosenthal suggests following the natural harvest of fruits and vegetables.

According to Integrative Nutrition, our ancestors ate seasonally because they had no choice. Fresh greens grew in spring, fruit ripened in the summer, root vegetables kept them going in the fall, and people relied on animal food to get them through the winter.

"When highways were invented, Americans could eat more or less anything they wanted, anytime they wanted," said Rosenthal. "But there are costs to this convenience. When we have ice cream in the middle of January and barbeques on July Fourth, it's likely to confuse the body, putting you out of sync with the usual rhythms of nature and making you more susceptible to inappropriate eating as well as colds, flu and other illness."

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Rosenthal suggests that staying in tune with your body and eating appropriate seasonal foods will provide more energy and strengthen immune systems, ultimately achieving inner and outer happiness, beauty and balance.

Here's the skinny:

-- Adjust your cooking methods for the time of year. During the colder months, put more heat into your food and cook it longer. Try roasting, baking and making stews to keep warm.

-- When springtime comes, allow your food preparation to become a little simpler. You can start to incorporate more raw foods, quick high-temperature sautes and steamed dishes.

-- Because produce is available year round, choosing what's in season can be confusing. Generally, look for ripe, fresh produce in abundance and check with your local farmers to get location-specific assistance for each season. Below are samples of the kinds of foods to eat for each season:

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