Everybody living in the areas affected by the aptly named “polar vortex” say it with me:
Cheese and rice, Mother Nature, what got up your butt this winter?!
I know that I’m not the only one with cabin fever, sick of eating stews and roasts. It’s about time to get some fresh flavour up in this
Personally, I love the cycle of the seasons. Once upon a time I had a full scholarship to do my PhD at Arizona State University, and for the life of me I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that there really isn’t a true seasonal cycle there. People in the southwest US will say that yes, there are seasons, but not like here.
There’s nothing better than when the leaves start turning bright orange, red, and yellow after too many humidex warning days in the summer, those days when you feel like you’re walking straight into a sauna. Or the first whiff of dirt and new green grass when the snow first melts.
I’m learning that the weather and the changing of the seasons is kind of like raising a toddler. No matter how bad some days are, how hot and sticky, how cold and bone-numbing, how exhausted you are from a baby who has a horrible chest cold AND is getting his molars at the same time … there is an end in sight for everything.
Usually just when things are at their worst, when you feel like you can’t take anymore, you get just a glimpse of a break, of something better. The day that Aleks decided to start walking himself from the house to the car is the day when I saw my first true glimpse of independence from this little man who has ruled our life and needed us for pretty much everything for the past 18 months. Halle-freaking-lulah!
This is how I feel about spring this year. Even though some of the bountiful spring produce won’t truly come into season until later in May, or even June, at least it’s coming!
Just like in the summer, fall, and winter editions of the “eat what’s cheap and in season RIGHT NOW” series, I used this trusty Foodland Ontario availability guide to see when I can stop holding my breath and start seeing my beloved local strawberries at the farm stands and grocery stores, instead of the craptastic ones shipped from California (sorry, California, but your strawberries have some standards to live up to).
Here’s what we can start looking forward to eating again, instead of the same roasted root vegetables:
I have a confession, something that I’ve been hiding from you (not on purpose) for a few months now.
I’m sharing this story because if I can help at least one person with the same issue, or help shine a light on this super common disorder, it helps me feel that I’m turning this really crappy experience into something positive.
Click on the video below to find out what I’ve been struggling with for the past few months (and years, if I really sit down and think about it):
If you’re reading this, you’re probably the one person in your house who’s interested in eating healthier (or maybe just organizing everything).
Chances are that your husband and kids didn’t come home one day and ask if they can have more kale, switch out the chocolate for unsweetened raw cacao, or eat some more fermented food.
If I had a quarter for every time someone asked me “Ashley, I want to eat healthy, but my family doesn’t … how do I get them to like what I cook?”, I probably wouldn’t have to work. It’s one of the most common questions that I get (especially since I work with women 99% of the time).
Don’t get mad at me, but I have to say that my husband is pretty open minded when it comes to main meals. He doesn’t complain about much.
Now snacks is a whole different ball park. If I tried to take away his chips, salted and cured meats, or beer, he’d probably divorce me.
The first thing that I want you to know is that only you can make the choice to eat healthier, and you can’t control what anyone else eats 100% of the time. I know that’s hard to hear, and as women we want to take care of everyone else.
When you want, or even need, to eat healthier, you need to do what they tell you when you take off on a plane: put your own oxygen mask on first.
Worry about your damn self for once!
Now for some actual, tangible tips, since there’s nothing more frustrating than taking time out of your very busy day to make a lovely, nutrient filled meal … and everyone makes pretend gagging noises and won’t eat it.
Most of the time, we’re all just trying to get through the day with our sanity and our kids in one piece.
Unless you’re a holistic nutritionist like me, you more than likely rarely (or never) sit around and wonder if your headache is from dehydration, stress, or an overloaded liver.
It’s hard enough getting dinner on the table, never mind a healthy dinner that everyone will eat without complaining about … but what if I told you that you can customize what you’re eating to reduce or even eliminate bodily issues or symptoms that you experience?
Symptoms are your body’s way of talking to you, of trying to tell you that something’s out of balance. The problem is that we don’t always speak the same language.
The beauty of becoming aware of your symptoms is that organ and system imbalances (like your stomach or your liver), nutrient excesses or deficiencies usually have a very specific subset of symptoms. The more symptoms affecting a system, the more likely there is an imbalance in that system (remember that I’m not a doctor, so I can’t talk about specific diseases or diagnoses).
The best part about all of this is that each bodily system has foods that can hinder it or support it.
Yes, I think we can all agree by now that food can, and should, be used as medicine. It’s gentle but effective, usually doesn’t have the side effects that other treatments can, and only helps other treatments work better.
Other than the time it takes to make the food, there really is no downside to eating your way to health.
Don’t get all overwhelmed, thinking that you have to spend hours researching food for your specific issues, and then figuring out how to get more of those foods into your daily life. Just take a deep breath.
There are people out there, called Registered Holistic Nutritionists (ahem, that’s me), who are trained to support you with exactly this. Whether you’ve been diagnosed by a doctor or naturopath, or just going by your symptoms, a RHN can help with more things than most people realize.
Before you work with a RHN, find out what they specialize in. Even better, most natural practitioners go into the business because they’ve personally had the same issues that they help with. That means they’ve tried the foods, recipes, and protocols that they’re going to give you, so you don’t waste your precious time and energy (and make sure the money you’re investing in them isn’t wasted!).
Here are 3 common health issues and what to eat to lessen the symptoms:
It’s time for hibernation, maybe a touch of the winter blues, and definitely cabin fever.
I’m writing this in the juxtaposition of feeling warm from the sun streaming into my window while simultaneously being chilled by the 50 km/h wind gusts that are sending the -13 degrees Celsius outdoor air into the house. My body doesn’t know what to think, and is rebelling with flaky skin.
Raise your hand if you miss being able to go for a walk outside, which is so not happening due to the inch of snow and ice covering the sidewalks, or being able to take your toddler outside without 3 layers on his top-half, a hat (toque in canadian dialect), and mittens that he clearly despises.
This is the time of year to crave comfort food, usually any type of sugary carbs. Now, some nutritionists out there might be telling you that doing a green smoothie or juice cleanse will help you get over these cravings, plus drop those extra holiday pounds and raise your energy level.
While that is true, here’s the deal (FYI, this only applies to those peeps out there who experience colder winter temperatures, not those living in a tropical climate): it’s damn cold, and your body is already stressed. While you may desperately need a cleanse or detox to address symptoms that you’re having, now is not the time.
Doing a detox can be highly beneficial for most people, since 99% of us have cells that are drowning in toxins, but it is a form of stress on your body. Stressing an already stressed body is not the way to get the best results from all of the work that a proper cleanse or detox takes. Wait for spring, which its the #1 optimal time to detox.
What you should focus on right now is eating nutrient-dense food, and the way to do that is to eat what’s in season right now. It’ll also save you some cash, since out of season food shipped from other countries altogether are outrageously expensive right now.
As mentioned in the summer edition and fall edition of this series “what’s cheap and in season RIGHT NOW”, I use this produce availability guide for my local area of Ontario. You can find one for your local area on something called “the internet” by using “Google”. Just search “what’s in season in [insert your area]“.
Chances are if you’ve got cold winter weather right now, this is what’s in season in your area, too: