We are well into the weather of autumn here in British Columbia. Wherever you are in Canada, you may have noticed your taste buds nudging you towards warmer foods, less raw options, and perhaps richer and heartier meals, too.
I couldn’t bring myself to eat an apple in August but now I am more than ready and the first one I had the other day was an absolute delight to my senses: the bright red blush of a tangy, sweet heritage Mac. Delicious!
Our bodies experience this natural transition of going from an expansive season, (spring or summer) to a more contractive one (fall or winter). We seek foods that best support our ‘hibernation’ and start storing up for the winter. Many of us experience a natural weight gain as we tend to exercise less and eat more at this time of year. This is normal and healthy as long as we lose it again in the springtime and pounds don’t accumulate year after year.
Listen to your Body
One of the foundational approaches I take with my clients is to reacquaint them with their body again; re-opening up the lines of communication they have with their inner selves. Cravings are a great example of a communication from the body to your brain, asking for something it needs. Sometimes, however, we need to ‘translate’ when it asks for potato chips or baked goods! Instead, we ought to reach for a more whole version of these ‘treats’ in order to really satiate the craving and to really deliver what the body is asking for. Otherwise it is left empty and un-satisfied and so it asks again and again. Sounds like an addiction, doesn’t it?
Eating unconsciously or without considering or listening to your body’s deeper needs virtually shuts off the communication flow between our brain and body, and in many ways severs the relationship between them. As a result, the body can become rebellious when it isn’t heard. Blood sugar imbalance, digestive issues and weight gain are primary examples. The brain can suffer too with memory loss, foggy thinking, or fatigue.
Eat with Awareness
On the flipside, when we eat with awareness and provide the body what it needs, it not only delivers physically but, on a whole other level, it also reinstates a trust between your brain and body. In our heavy left-brain analytical world we need to nurture this relationship again. Most of us have become intellectual eaters. In other words, we have become accustomed to eating according to what a book or what someone else told us to eat (such as a parent, a doctor or a celebrity) because it is supposedly good for us. We do much better when we we listen to what our deeper self is asking for.
Some of us have lost the ability to crave. We eat plain foods, little variety and stick to a rigid routine. But our deep inner cravings can be reawakened. I’ve worked with people who have barely eaten a vegetable in their lives and they have no desire for one, let alone crave them at all. Perhaps their parents never forced the issue or perhaps they were the same? Once their own taste is reawakened, they are often the most fervent vegetable lovers.
Slow and Easy
So if you are veggie shy, give them a try. Start slow and easy and go somewhere where you’ll be inspired, like a gorgeous display of rich organic colourful fare at a farmers’ market. Or a local organic market where the food is displayed with great care, like beautiful art. Find what appeals to you, even if only slightly. Try that first, just a little. Then try another. Slowly you may tap into an unknown love for plants you didn’t know was in you.
A good Nutritionist guides you and helps educate you in what healthier looks like but also leaves room for creativity and ultimately making your own choices in response to your individual body’s needs. Try using food as your vehicle for change, on all levels! It’s a wonderful starting point.
This also brings me to one of the many other factors that makes this time of year a great time to reflect on our diets and ourselves. Local food is currently abundant in this harvest season and abundant in nutrients too.
We tend to crave these starchy seasonals as they build up our body and help us store for the winter. Try not to worry if you are trying to lose unhealthy weight. When good communication is present, the body knows how to judge what is needed and when. You will not usually crave these foods unless they are needed as fuel, not storage/fat. Furthermore, one of the many splendid benefits of eating truly whole foods is that the body has an innate relationship with whole foods which allows it to take what it needs and leave what it doesn’t. Isn’t that grand!
Trust this process, take off the thinking cap, put down the reigns and allow your body, mind and spirit to flourish and reunite with the world around it, within in, and watch your inner and even outer relationships thrive.
Enjoy those ruby red beets, crinkly green kale and crooked carrots. Feel free to eat them with reckless abandon – but only, of course, if you so desire.
Warm blessings to you and yours as this glorious, cool, dark season unfolds.
About the Author
Lisa Marie Bhattacharya, RHN, InspireHealth Nutritionist is a passionate foodie and firm believer in the power
of food as medicine.
Apple photo courtesy E.E.Paul