The pleasures of the palate: How seasons affect our diet

Asparagus and tomatoes

Asparagus and tomatoes

Our health and nutrition expert Anu Paavola explores how the changing seasons affect our diet. And guess what – at this time of year, chocolate isn’t such a bad thing after all…

What is your comfort food? Is it savoury or sweet? Is it spicy or mild? Is it cold or warm? Or, does your comfort food change from time to time? These are some of the questions you should ask when making an analysis of your body-mind type.

Often what your mouth and your mind desire, your favourite foods or your cravings, are an indicator of what you actually need.

Listen to what your body tells you

For example, people with lots of body heat usually crave food items that are cooling. If you ask them what their favourite food is, they might say coconut milk or dairy. These have a cooling effect in the body, even if they are taken warm.

Or other people that always feel cold usually tend towards choosing foods that warm them up, like spice. Chilli is an ingredient in our kitchen cupboards that has a highly heating quality and can be very medicinal for those who have a slow metabolism.

Those whose nervous system is prone to getting over-stimulated often naturally avoid chilli because it makes them feel worse.

So making observations on what food you naturally gravitate towards is a great indicator of your body’s nature.

But does what we crave make us feel better – or worse?

There is an important consideration to take into account however. When our bodies are too out of balance they start craving exactly what makes them feel worse. So strung people will increase coffee intake, those who are overweight increase their fat and sugar load and people overheated resort to chilli. They start self-feeding their imbalance.

There are both good and bad cravings. Good cravings are the ones that give you an indication that you need to make an adjustment on the balance of your health. The bad cravings are the ones you should train your mind to resist.

Spring diet

How the seasons affect our diet

Cravings are also related to the seasons. Those following seasonal diets are experts in understanding what our bodies need. The diet should change three times a year according to the times of the harvests: spring, summer and autumn. (In winter the soil should rest so food is provided by autumn diet).

Once the season changes we start craving exactly what is in harvest at that particular time. This is an amazing finding when you switch to eating seasonally. Cravings really are the proof that a seasonal diet is the natural diet for us.

Once you eat seasonally your body returns to its ideal weight in springtime, is able to digest a great load of sugary and starchy fruits and vegetables in summer and finally wants to create a small protective layer in autumn for the body to survive through the winter months.

This cyclic movement of diet nourishes our body just the way it wants to be nourished – synchronized with the dynamics of the changing environment.

Spring into a detox (you can even include chocolate!)

At the moment we’ve just moved into the season of Spring. It is the ideal time to shed some weight and detox. Traditionally, nearly every culture has a ritual of fasting during this period and in fact Easter for us marks the end of Lent.

In addition to revering our religious beliefs, Lent responds to a specific physiological need of the body and mind to shed fat and toxins. So, if you’re not already are on a detox, do start – there are a few weeks before Easter festivities!

In this period even a light detox or weight loss program can achieve good results. And if you do want to indulge in some Easter chocolate, make sure it is dark. This is the time to avoid milk, along with sugar and starchy food.

If you observe carefully, dark chocolate might just be the thing that pleases your taste buds at this moment. I personally enjoy a single espresso with a piece of organic 70% chocolate after my lunch. It helps me to digest better in this period of sluggishness and easy tiredness. It wouldn’t do me any good in winter but hey, that time is over, for now.

If you are interested more in understanding more about your body, see Anu for a consultation at Jivita Ayurveda

Originally published Apr 8, 2014

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