Ever wish you had a guide to show you exactly what foods to eat to stay healthy? That your grocery list and meal planning was done for you? And it included the best available seasonal produce?
Whether you run your own business, work in an office, are an athlete, or are a stay-at-home parent handling endless responsibility, you know the steps to eating healthy can sometimes feel a lot harder than it sounds. Especially if you don’t know where to start or how to transition your recipes and routines to changing seasons.
As we have just entered Autumn, you may notice your body starts to crave fewer raw vegetables & fruits and more cooked, warming foods. The types of recipes that trend with the season are often richer, denser foods that tend to have more calories, fats and proteins in contrast to the lighter, water-dense Spring and Summer foods.
Transformation fills the air as the days become cooler and shorter. Trees shed their leaves, and nature condenses her vegetative abundance. And while seasonal variations affect all your physiological systems, your cardio-respiratory, cardio-vascular system, and circadian rhythm become the most sensitive to changes. This makes adapting to seasonal changes in your environment critical for your wellness.
Good nutrition is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, year-round. The food choices you make each day affect your health and how you feel today, tomorrow and in your future. When you combine healthy eating with physical activity, you are aiding your healing and wellness journey and/or reducing your risk of chronic disease.
While you may notice there are fewer options in the produce aisle, there are still plenty of flavorful food choices, delicious healthy recipes, and tasty beneficial herbs to celebrate your life with daily. And of course, there may be the unavoidable temptation of baked goods and holiday treats that parallel this time of year. Too easily this can set off your anxiety over how you are going to keep up with your weight loss or health and wellness goals.
Thankfully, our Health Coach, Gin Burchfield, will guide you to the foods, tips, and recipes that can strengthen your immunity and help you create a lifestyle that healthfully embraces the season.What to Eat and Why
During Autumn, it is important to eat warm, well cooked food with quality spices such as cumin, coriander, fennel and ginger. This is to combat the drying effects of autumn winds and indoor heating. Warm spices help your digestion to stay strong through fall and into winter, even as your body is naturally slowing down.
Notice the produce that is freshly available in your area: butternut squash, pumpkin, apples, and kale or collard greens are all improved by cooking and pair naturally with the spices listed above. Healthy oils and fats such as ghee, sesame, and olive oil can also help combat dryness.
Why is this important? Dryness is the in-road for bacteria. Cracked skin and dry sinuses let bacteria travel into the body. Keeping the body and digestion pliable ensures that our skin and mucous membranes can continue to protect our body during colder seasons.
When to Eat & Why
As the days become shorter, it is important to adjust your circadian rhythms to accommodate less daylight. Create a daily routine that supports this adjustment as you detox. This means heading to bed earlier and waking with first light (a proven prevention for SAD). Along with this, it is important to prepare for quality sleep by eating dinner early, during daylight if possible. This will ensure that you get the required 2-3 hours for digestion to occur prior to going to sleep each evening. Two things will be accomplished: stronger digestion and better sleep.
If you enjoy intermittent fasting, shift your eating window to 8am-4pm if you use a 16-8 schedule, or 8am-6pm if you use a 14-10 schedule. Creating a lot of space and time for digestion supports your naturally slower digestion at this time of year. Remember my key rule: the sun aids my digestion! While we may have come away from this as a society, it will help you align with your body’s naturally adjusting circadian rhythms.
List of Seasonal Foods
As mentioned above, take advantage of the bounty of Fall Vegetables! Root vegetables, butternut squash and pumpkin, collard and kale greens, apples and pears are abundant this time of year. They also hold up well in soups and stews. Beets and celery are a nice addition to warm salads as they support bile and HCL (stomach acid that helps break down food in your gut) production. Lentils and Mung beans are great vegetarian proteins, and should be soaked for 8 hours prior to cooking in order to loosen the skin and make them easier to digest.
A sample daily menu for me at this season may be stewed apples with cinnamon, cardamom and ginger for breakfast, slow cooker beef stew for lunch, and baked sweet potato with sauteed kale for dinner. Keeping my dinner lighter than lunch allows me to digest more easily before bed. Using a crock pot means that I can have healthy stews and soups available to my family all the time, even with the kids sports schedule on the agenda.
Herbs of Special Importance in the Fall
Make a mixture of equal parts turmeric, cumin, coriander and fennel with half part ginger. Use this as a base in both meat and vegetarian dishes. This combination is high in antioxidants and antibacterial properties. It supports a warm digestion to combat cold and keeps bowel motility in check.
Nourishing Teas for Transitioning into Fall
Try making a homemade Chai Tea to keep you warm! Simply place black peppercorns, a few cloves, a hunk of ginger, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods in a pot of hot water and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Honey is also warming, and can be stirred in once your cup of tea has come down to drinking temperature. (Honey should never be heated as it turns carcinogenic).
For an evening ritual you can simmer the same ingredients in plant-based milk or cow’s milk (if you tolerate dairy) including the addition of fresh turmeric root. This is called Golden Milk. It acts as a sleep tonic and helps to stave off post-dinner food cravings.
Example of Meal Plan/Modifications
For Detox time, I really encourage you to go as plant-based, light, well-cooked, and seasonal as possible. Follow the eating windows, reducing snacking to support strong digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
The intentions you created for your Autumnal Cleanse are supported by your food and nutrient choices. If you haven’t checked out Part 1 yet, get your Free copy here and set your intentions for your healthiest Fall ever! We created our Autumnal Cleanse series to provide you the guidance you need to boost your immune system and get or stay healthy during the change of seasons. Following these suggestions by our Health Coach, Gin Burchfield, will help you go forth into the Fall feeling great about the wellness journey you are committing to.
To Your Health,
Kiran Grewal MD & Gin Burchfield, Health Coach at the Grewal Center for Mind Body Medicine
"My goal is to share my knowledge with the world. I believe in delivering valuable and ethical content that changes the lives of my patients." -Kiran Grewal MD