Today’s blog post comes from my lovely friend Carol Lee of The Natural Food School. 

She is a very experienced Naturopathic Nutritionist with a background in Five Element Acupuncture and writes from the heart about her passion for healthy food. Join her below on a journey through the seasons to find out how best to make the most of the wonderful food that Nature has on offer. You can also subscribe to Carol’s free seasonal newsletter, and get a free A4 chart full of wonderful information. 

Staying healthy with the Seasons

Farmer’s markets, veggie box schemes and sustainability has made the idea of seasonal eating popular. We feel good and virtuous when we come home with a bag of muddy vegetables which we have to scrub before we start cooking. But what if there is much more to seasonal eating than first appears.

My passion for all things seasonal began over 25 years ago when I studied 5 element Acupuncture and I learnt how the seasons are inextricably linked to our health and well being throughout the year. I learnt that the 5 elements of nature; wood, fire, earth, metal and water are linked to the 5 seasons; spring, summer, late summer/harvest, autumn and winter and that over the course of a year our bodies, minds and spirits will ebb and flow with the seasons. When I later went on to study Natural Nutrition and formalise a life long ‘foodie’ passion I learnt how linking the seasonal energy to food could keep us well and aid our healing.

Of course a huge part of eating with the seasons is literally eating what grows naturally in that season, for example all those gorgeous berries, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and loganberries are spot on for summer puddings and squashes, apples, sweetcorn, plums and courgettes are perfect harvest goodies.

What I also learnt and found fascinating was how the foods that grew at each time of year matches our energy and the feeling of the season. So let me explain a bit more and take you on an ‘energetic’ food journey through the year.

As Spring approaches we are starting to ‘wake up’. We are feeling less sluggish, less sleepy and we are getting ready to pop our head up out of our winter ‘bed….sort of like how I imagine a seed ‘feels’ as it begins to grow after Winter. As the sap rises many of us feel a surge of energy, you may feel like finally clearing out that cupboards, getting that job done or starting a exercise regime. In terms of food we see this dynamic purposeful energy reflected in fast growing leafy greens, lettuces, spinach and pointing shooting asparagus. These greens are invigorating and cleansing and stimulate the liver to have a spring clean.

As we ‘shoot’ through spring into Summer we may feel a softer energy, there is a moment to step back, admire, reflect and perhaps refine what we started in Spring. Multi-coloured Summer is here! Passionate, sociable and fun, there is still a lot of growth but it’s much more relaxed. We see this reflected in the flowers and berries of Summer, a riot of lushness and colour and the water laden fruits and vegetables that help keep us cool.

We then amble into harvest time, the balance point of the year; I always feel it has that last month of pregnancy feel, all the growth is complete just a bit of plumping out needed. There is that ‘gathering in’ feeling, contentedness and smugness as we admire what we have produced. This is reflected by the homely delights of apple and blackberry crumble, roast squash and an abundance of produce to make jams and chutneys.

As we dip down into Autumn we feel the air change and our energy starts to drop. The air is cooler and we want to spend more time indoors, it is time to prepare for winter. I find that cosy feeling of drawing in and making the first autumnal soup delicious. In nature the energy is returning back down into the soil and ‘earthy’ food such as mushrooms, carrots and potatoes come into their own.

Finally from Autumn we slowly roll into Winter, that deep, dark place of rest and recuperation, for nature a time to regenerate and fortify. This is also a time for us to do the same and even if we only manage a 10 minute hibernate/meditate everyday we are helping to recharge our batteries. We see this energy reflected in warming, slow cooked foods incorporating the deep slow growing ‘roots’ and frost crisped brassicas.

Now we have completed the seasonal cycle you may be thinking ‘Sounds lovely but how can this help me stay healthy through the year?’ Well it is as simple as this; by eating food that is naturally ‘in season’ you will going with the natural flow and rhythms of life. The energy you will save from riding the wave of this powerful, natural energy cycle can then be used elsewhere for healing, cleansing and generally making you feel more vital and alive….as Judith says we all need to ‘Nourish to flourish’ and eating seasonally as much as we can is a great foundation for vibrant, ecstatic good health!! ENJOY those seasonal veggies!!

If you have enjoyed this blog you may like to subscribe to my FREE seasonal newsletters for lots of juicy tips and recipes for staying healthy with the seasons. When you sign up you will have ‘subscriber access’ to a welcome pack containing free fact sheets and recipes plus a newly created seasonal info-graphic called ‘Staying Healthy with Seasons’, this colourful printable ‘fridge friendly’ A4 poster contains insights into the 5 elements and the energy of the season, info on what fruit and vegetables are in season plus how to eat and cook in each season. I had such fun creating it and I hope you enjoy it too http://naturalfoodschool.co.uk/freenewsletter/

For daily updates and info you can join me on Facebook too https://www.facebook.com/naturalfoodschool

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