By Kris McIntyre and John Niotakis - Kris is a qualified Ryoho Yoga & Shiatsu Therapist and freelance writer. She works in Healthy Life’s support office. John is a qualified Naturopath and has run his own practice since 1997. John works at Healthy Life Fountain Gate
In nature, winter is the season for hibernation – a time for resting and restoring. It’s also the perfect time to focus inwards and build strength and stability in the body with the right food and wellness rituals to support you through the cooler months.
According to Ayurvedic wisdom, winter is actually the season when the digestive fire (‘agni’) is strongest and the body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy. Therefore, our bodies tend to crave a more substantial, nutritive diet at this time of year, and you will likely find yourself eating larger quantities of food. We also need warm, strong and hearty food during the winter months to provide us with the support we need to endure the cold weather.
It’s time to get your pressure cooker out – long, slow cooking methods (e.g. casseroles, stews, soups and broths). Other tips:
Eating with the seasons
Eating locally grown, seasonal vegetables helps you adapt to your surroundings by subtly connecting you to the rhythm of the seasons. In winter, more ‘contractive’ and warming vegetables (such as carrots, kale, broccoli, parsnip, swedes and turnip) give us the stamina and vitality we need in winter. In very cold climates, pickles and dried vegetables (e.g. sauerkraut, onions, winter squashes, roots and cabbages) are also recommended.
Tip: If you are not sure what grows naturally in your environment, visit your local farmers market.
Healing foods for winter:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), winter is when the ‘water element’ in the body is most prominent. This energy system is linked to the structural integrity of our body and its shape, the kidney and bladder organs and associated energy systems, our sense of identity, our hormonal and nervous systems, bones, sexual energy and reproductive functions. Winter is the ideal time of the year to deal with these functions and issues including lower back pain, stress and hormonal imbalances.
The following foods help to support the water element in the body:
Try to avoid:
Winter supplements – to keep colds and flus at bay
A note about salt
High salt intake (in the form of refined and processed foods and table salt) has been attributed to a number of leading health issues including hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease and stroke. However, humans need salt to survive – it’s just a question of getting the right balance.
Why salt is important
Good quality sea salt contains many of the trace minerals that the body needs. It also helps to breakdown carbohydrates, assimilate food, and regulate the body’s electrolyte balance. Salt of the Earth is one of the most natural unprocessed salts available which has great balancing effect on the body's electrolytes and fluid metabolism.
Recommended daily dose
The daily dose depends on your current individual health status. We recommend seeking professional advice about what is right for you from one of our qualified experts. Use a good brand such as Salt of The Earth Celtic Sea Salt in cooking.
Cut down on salt if you:
Add a little more salt to your diet if you:
The trick is to use salt in your cooking, not on your food as it dissolves better with heat. Add salt at the beginning of cooking for grains, half way through for vegetables and at the end (in the last 10 minutes) for beans and legumes. Avoid refined table salt and instead use only good quality, unrefined sea salt. The best quality sea salt will be slightly grey in colour, not white. We recommend Salt of the Earth Celtic Sea Salt and other similar high quality hand crafted salts.