Nourishing Your Body in Winter - A Tale of nourishing the body according to environment
Once upon a time..
Once upon a time in the depth of Winter, there was a frozen goods supermarket worker and a warm office worker. The supermarket worker was very routine in their eating of the same food groups day in day out (heavy with the wheat, gluten and dairy based foods) and the office worker varied their diet depending on how they felt (variety of herbs, spices and listened to their body as to when to have dairy). One of these workers, was constantly sick, struggled with digestion issues and struggled to maintain a healthy weight.
Which worker was sick all the time and why?
Our bodies’ are affected by the internal/ external environments it exists within
As our seasons change so does our climate and the way we need to nourish our bodies, in order maintain greater balance within the body.
Certain foods/the way we eat, can help us to balance out these changes in our bodies responses to biochemical (chemical/metabolic processes within a living thing/organism) fluctuations. A basic biochemical/ biophysics law that can be applied here is like increases like i.e. hot creates hot, therefore you eat chilli your body responds with creating an internal fire. The same works with our emotions and thoughts as they are a form of energy existing within our being, anxiety creates more anxiety.
Another biochemical law is that an opposite balances it’s opposites i.e. hot balances cold. You eat hot soup the temperature within you rise. Likewise again with your emotions/ thoughts actively working on bringing in calm and peace balances anxiety.
We understand this on an intuitive level as most of us won’t go eating ice cream in Winter because it will make us feel colder when we desire to be warm. If we were to eat ice cream and we were cold then we would be bringing more of the cold and dampness element into our bodies. This is a likely environment for colds, bugs and flus to set in. Sometimes there can be a mixture of environments also i.e. cooling/dry where by you are cold but also dry skinned, dehydrated symptoms of poor digestion/ cracked skin (lips/ hands) etc. So, in these cases you would need to focus on balancing these conditions out with heat/ dampness.
We don’t always have control over the external environments we get placed within ( i.e. a warm office or a freezing chiller section at the supermarket). However, we do have control over what we choose to balance our internal environment with.
So love yourself and allow yourself the time and space without judgement and expectation to experience these states but then do something about them. Our healing journeys are all very individual, I would be writing encyclopedia type novels around this topic if I was to address everything. So, right now I will bring in the idea of a simple grounding practice that everyone - no matter what their journey - can start with and implement everyday to help bring more peace to their lives, so more love and happiness can be felt, more frequently and for longer periods of time.
Start at your core
Where to start then? Well we start at the core, the core of our body, that being the digestive system. Our digestive system is not only the home to breaking down our food so we can absorb the nutrients, it is also the first line of defense in our immune system and houses our “second brain” meaning the digestive system is sensitive to our thoughts and emotions. Interestingly enough our stomach is where we produce most of our Serotonin our “happy hormone”. This hormone travels through the bloodstream to the brain, allowing us to feel calm and happy.
The first line of defense of the immune system is within the lining of our gut wall, if we don’t nourish our gut properly physically (nourishing foods), mentally and emotionally (through actively taking steps to de-stress) then we can end up with major gut disturbances i.e. imbalances of good/ bad bacteria, bloating, indigestion, pain and even stomach ulcers. This can mean our first line of defense against bugs has been compromised, hence we become ill. With this compromisation in integrity of the gut wall and immune system defense, our ability to produce serotonin decreases, leaving us unhappy, moody, anxious, depressed and frustrated.
Furthermore, if we don’t understand the balancing elements of food and have too much dampening/ cooling foods in our diet in Winter our internal environment creates the perfect mucousy, damp home for bugs to inhabit.
When it come to breaking down food our digestive system has its own fire. Without this internal fire being stoked it is very hard to to obtain proper breakdown of food to absorb all of the minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that are designed to keep us vital and healthy. If the internal environment (discussed in the above paragraphs) is created then our digestive fire weakens, only fuelling a circle of a dysfunctioning digestive and immune systems.
Have you solved the case yet of which worker was sick all the time and why?
Example of creating more a more stable environment in Winter start with increasing heat in your body by:
- Light Curries with all your warming spices – curry, chilli, ginger, turmeric, cumin
- To then accompany this with some dampness you would add some dampening foods like dairy, coconut, root vegetables i.e. Kumara (sweet potato)
- If there is too much dampness then balance with dryness which can be foods and drink that are diuretics or astringents e.g. parsley / coriander/ basil, quinoa or millet, spices like turmeric/cumin, sprouted beans i.e. mung beans. (Note that some of these also increase the heating element).
- There is so many more examples of foods and what category they fit in, but first have a play with these elements and see how your body responds. If you would like to know more then feel free to get in touch.
Learn to get to know the flow of your digestive system:
- Notice how you feel before you eat, are you really, hungry?
- How do you feel once you have eaten, heavy or energised?
- Discover how your body digests certain foods – for example dairy is a healthy food group but for those with not much heat or dryness within their body in winter too much can cause further dampness producing symptoms of mucus and congestion.
Here’s some things to start to practice:
- Try to eat only when hungry, stoke your digestive fire with digestible meals.
- Avoid putting out the fire with excessively cold, damp foods/ drink or aggravating the fire with excessive spicy foods.
- Leave 3- 4 hours between meals.
- Drink warm water with lemon, ginger tea or chai tea at least 20 mins before each meal, helps to stimulate the stomach acid to assist in breakdown of food.
- Chew your food properly as this will help break down the food for greater absorption of nutrients.
- Eat until your stomach is ½ - ¾ full this leaves enough room for your stomach to churn and digest food properly.
If you guessed that the frozen goods supermarket worker was sick more often, well done. You solved the case. If you didn’t, have another skim back over of the information and see if you can now make the connections.