winter tree

winter menus

It seems that winter has finally arrived in Michigan, and on my 57th birthday, we had a gorgeous, cold, snowy day with a few moments where the sun peeked through and made me gasp at the beauty of the world—both outside my window and up close and personal on my walks with Kermit the Dog (now also known by his hip-hop moniker, bestowed on him by a friend, of “K-Dog.”)

I’ve long been fascinated with food energetics—the idea that the food we eat has not only a “hard nutrition” (physical) component but also contains spiritual and emotional powers that emanate from it.

food energetics

The origins of food energetics lie in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which teaches that every food possesses certain combination of innate characteristics (yin/yang, heating/cooling, drying/dampness promoting, energizing/calming…). So changing what we eat can restore harmony to a system in chaos or disharmony.

In addition, the cooking methods we apply to our food can increase or decrease its characteristics: quick, hot methods (grilling, broiling, sautéing, steaming) and long, slow methods (simmering, braising) can add or detract from the food’s qualities.

To those two factors, I like to add the elements of sustainability and ethics:

  • How sustainably was your food produced? Did its production detract from or add to the health of the environment?
  • How ethically was your food brought to your table? Did everyone in the food web (from planter to picker to processor to packer to shelf stocker to seller) make a living wage and have benefits?

Yes, ethical, sustainable food costs more, so you will need to decide where you feel comfortable on that spectrum of budget vs. sustainability/ethics.

winter menus

secondary foods

Ideally, you would contact a licensed practitioner and learn about what foods are specifically for you during this season. (TCM is not about blanket/prescriptive diet plans!)

And if you don’t suffer from any chronic diseases or conditions, you can easily search online for foods that TCM deems appropriate for winter

In general, “warming” foods include whole grains, nuts + seeds, and legumes, particularly adzuki + black beans. Winter squash and root veggies, such as yams and parsnips, also contribute a warming, grounding energy.

In terms of cooking methods, think about recipes that you’re probably craving anyway: long, slow simmers and braises—soups, stews, etc.

primary foods

Beyond the sustenance we put in our mouths, there are a lot of other aspects of our lives that nourish us—or don’t!

If you tune into your intuition, you’ll probably notice that in the winter, with less light and warmth, you naturally crave more quiet, introspective time. Okay, let’s face it—you may feel downright lazy and want to hibernate!

Listen to that voice: take time to slow down, spend more time curled up on the couch instead of being social. (I guess Omicron may be encouraging you to do that, anyway! I keep wondering whether the pandemic isn’t Nature’s way of teaching us to slow down and take better care of ourselves!)

Don’t become a couch potato—and don’t push yourself to overdo, either. A walk in the snow can be enough physical activity!

simply: health coaching winter menu

What’s on the January menu at Simply: Health Coaching? So much yummy stuff—and it’s all virtual, allowing you to hibernate and still be active!

make the connection

There’s no reason to fight your inclination to hibernate!

Start paying attention to your intuition when it comes to food and lifestyle choices. You may notice your body asking you for different things from season to season: pay attention to her wisdom.

Living in harmony with your body and the seasons will increase your immunity and your energy, giving you exactly what you need to not only survive but thrive this winter.

Photo by Nadine Wuchenauer from Pexels