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The season of fall brings cooler weather and shorter days. As with any season, the world adjusts accordingly. Plants begin to go dormant, animals start scrounging for food to help get them through the upcoming winter months and humans start winterizing everything. Sweatpants and hoodies become more commonplace and everything…EVERYTHING is pumpkin flavored.
As fall descends on the land, it reminds us we need to start cutting back on the numerous cooling foods that are consumed during the summer months. Things like raw foods, salads, juices and fruits need to be decreased because they can create too much cold in the body. This is just one principle followed by Traditional Chinese Medicine.
There are many facets to TCM and nutrition is one of the most important. The ancient Chinese observed what took place in nature and followed those cues accordingly. So when the season changed to fall and the amount of daylight decreased and the temperatures cooled, the Chinese began to eat what was available. This is what it means to “eat for the season.” By eating according to the season, we can avoid many illnesses and diseases. If we continue to eat raw, cold foods during the cooler fall and winter months, then we set ourselves up for digestive problems, colds, sinus infections and even painful joints.
When a person eats seasonally, they will inevitably notice certain foods are no longer abundant or available. In the season of fall, one should fill their pantry and cupboards with dried foods, heavy grains, seeds, roots and squashes that can help move the body’s energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) inward.
Fall is also a time to slow down. This means we should cook food for longer periods of time on lower heat. How we cook food will affect how the body tolerates it and how the energy is utilized. Some examples of how to cook for the season of fall include making soups and stews, using a crockpot or slow cooker, roasting and baking foods. These methods create a deeper warmth and supply greater energy from the food.
Foods that are nourishing to the lung are very important during the season of fall. Since many people get sick during these months, lung tonifying foods can be very beneficial. This includes foods like ginger, onion, garlic, pears, walnuts, miso, navy beans, almonds asparagus, broccoli, apricots, bananas, apples, plums and grapes.
The dryer weather can also cause chapped lips, a dry nose, an itchy throat, rough skin and even dry stools. To counter these issues, it is recommended to eat foods that promote the production of bodily fluids, such as nuts, seeds, pears, pumpkin, honey and a traditional Chinese porridge known as congee.
Animal products tend to be warming and grounding by nature. And for those who eat animal flesh, increasing the intake can be beneficial during the cooler fall months. As mentioned before, roasting, baking or stewing the meats is the most beneficial.
When we follow the cues given to us by nature, we can maintain a very healthy existence.
Start the day off right
Make a homemade breakfast for your loved one or close family and friends in your life. Everyone can appreciate waking up to something homemade. Try doing breakfast in bed for your significant other or hosting a friends and family brunch at your house.
Show your appreciation
Don’t forget to tell your loved one how much you appreciate them. Show them how much they mean to you by making a creative list of all the reasons you are happy they are in your life.
Plan the day
Make a plan for the day! Decide to do an activity that you both enjoy whether it is getting outside, going to a museum or going out to the movies. Splurge a little for the day.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Take this day to put everyday stressors on the back burner. Life gets busy, and a lot of times we take it out on the people we care about the most. Try to forget about trivial problems and enjoy your loved one’s company! The small things you may fight about don’t matter, especially today.
Take the pressure off
Instead of doing Valentine’s Day gifts this year, make a decision with your significant other to put the money toward something else for the both of you. Instead of feeling the pressure to go buy a gift, plan a weekend getaway together or even a day trip to enjoy each other’s company.
Take care of yourself
Your loved ones care deeply about you, so make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. Keep your health in check and remember that it is ok to be selfish sometimes. The people in your life want to see you happy as much as you want to make them happy.
Every day can be Valentine’s Day
Remember that any day is the perfect opportunity to show how much you care and love the people in your life. Strive to make your loved ones smile today and every other day as well. The small gestures can go a long way.
We’ve always the heard the saying to enjoy everything in moderation, and that is definitely true when it comes to holiday foods. Don’t try to deprive yourself during the holidays, it most likely won’t go over well. Having an extra holiday treat here and there won’t kill you. You’re allowed to indulge a bit, just keep portions small when it comes to holiday desserts and make sure you limit how often you eat them. Going the whole season without any treats is cruel and will most likely end in binging later, so have your guilty pleasures, just keep them in moderation.
Watch the alcohol
The holidays are a time for celebration, which most likely means more alcohol. Not only does alcohol add on empty calories, but can also lead you to eating more while drinking. If you are at a gathering, limit yourself to one or two drinks to cut down on the unhealthy cravings you might be feeling afterward.
Focus on the protein
Protein-packed foods are a great way to fill up without adding a lot of sugar and empty carbohydrates. Pack your plate with low-fat meats like turkey and chicken. If you’re vegetarian, eat more of the tofu than the side dishes that are most likely to be sugar and carbohydrate heavy.
Fill up on the water
Don’t forget about water! The holidays are an easy time to drink more sugary beverages than normal. Substitute drinks for water, and drink a lot of it. Not only is water essential for your health, but drinking a glass before a meal can fill you up more as well, preventing you from overeating.
Take your time
Eating too fast is one of the easiest ways to overeat. When you don’t give your body the chance to digest food and feel full before you stop eating, chances are you’re going to end up eating more than you want. Eat slowly and enjoy each bite to give your body a chance to catch up. This way, you’ll end up getting full faster and eat less.
Most of all don’t forget to enjoy the holidays and the delicious food that comes with it, don’t be afraid to indulge a little!