| Neeyaz Zolfaghari is an Integrative Nutritionist, Lifestyle Coach, and Founder of Unspoken Nutrition
16th-century Medical Scholar, Gao Lian, spoke about the art of nourishing life. He recognized that when we nourish ourselves according to the seasons, it manifests stronger energy in the body. And to attain optimal balance, one must be careful about increasing the intake of and eat foods that would enhance that energy (Institute for Traditional Medicine).
We have five true seasons that farmers also plan their harvest around: spring, early summer, late summer, fall, and winter. Just as our lifestyle habits change season to season, such as resting and nesting during the winter and spending more time in the sun and outdoors during warmer months, the foods that we eat should also change seasonally.
Eating seasonally is what nature intended. It is an eating pattern that balances weight, energy, and wellness.
It supports your body’s changing needs throughout the year.
Our dietary requirements change with the seasons. For example, spring calls for fresh and newly sprouted foods, to celebrate the turn from cold months and cool down our internal fires as we head into summer. Think fresh leafy greens, herbs like basil and mint, snap peas, strawberries, and cucumber.
Summer is a time of great abundance, as days are longer and warmer. Many fruits and vegetables become readily available during the summer and because it is also the warmest, it is important to stay cool and hydrated. Foods such as melons, swiss chard, and summer squash are wonderful this time of the year.
In the fall, cold weather is beginning to come through. Early fall in particular is considered a transitional stage, making it important to enjoy plenty of late summers harvested fruits such as apples and pears. As the peak of fall comes into late fall, enjoy spices and warming foods such as cinnamon and nutmeg and produce such as acorn squash, pumpkin, and ginger.
In the winter months, supporting your immune system is especially vital. Root vegetables such as squash and carrots help to ground our energies and warm our core. Think stews and soups during the winter, made from these vegetables and broths made from vegetable scraps.
Foods are enjoyed at their peak ripeness
Fruits and vegetables are at their peak of freshness when they are in season and are more nutritious. Seasonal produce is generally harvested at its peak and because it has naturally ripened on the vine or in the ground, it will have more flavor. Fruits and vegetables in season are tastier, juicier, and more nutritious—plain and simple.
It reduces carbon footprint
By eating seasonally, you are also supporting a more sustainable food economy. Have you ever given thought about the measured lengths food travels before it arrives on the market shelves? All of those miles it racks up comes at a hefty environmental cost that can also affect our health.
Reduces pesticide and preservative consumption
When you think about out-of-season produce, aside from the distance it traveled to the grocery store, what do you think helps it stay fresh? That would be pesticides and preservatives. Think about it—do you think a cantaloupe that has traveled for 3 days remains looking juicy and plump the entire travel time? If it’s pesticide and preservative-free, it would show spotting and have softened parts. So how can you avoid this? Avoid out-of-season produce and choose ones that are organic (where possible) and locally grown. This will help minimize the intake of these chemicals.
It’s an investment in your health and allows you to live in nature’s harmony
Chronic illness and related conditions are continuously on the rise, making it even more important to pay attention to the kinds of foods we are eating. Eating fresh, whole foods, free of GMOs, chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, added sugar, vegetable oils, trans fats, and other toxins are an investment in our health. Eating in harmony also helps us connect more deeply to Mother Earth and instills a respectful reverence for the foods we eat. Get in touch with the Earth and its bounty—it will help you get in touch your yourself.