By: Lorette Steenman, RHN & RYT
When the weather starts to get colder, it makes sense that we crave a warm bowl of chili or soup instead of a cold salad.
According to Ayurveda, food (and lifestyle) is the most important medicine; each food has different properties that cool or warm the body, and whether or not you feel cool or warm has little to do with the food’s temperature. And, according to ancient Chinese medicine practitioners, most foods have either cooling or warming characteristics. Vegetables such as onions, pumpkins and squash warm our bodies more than celery, cucumber and lettuce.
The way we prepare our foods can also influence whether we feel warm or cold: Baking, boiling and sautéing foods keeps heat in, while steaming and stir-frying let heat out.
Spice can also be warming or cooling, which affects the balance of the digestive system. Garlic and ginger are heating spices, as are basil, cinnamon and nutmeg. Dill, mint and saffron are cooling spices that can help keep you fresh and comfortable. And even though curry can pack some heat, remember that eating spicy foods actually cools you down. A hot curry or chilli increases body perspiration, which in turn cools the body as it evaporates.
Eating organically, locally and seasonally helps to keep our bodies in harmony. While the quest for far-off foods year-round has become a reality for most of us, it’s an unfortunate one at that, both detrimental to our health and our earth. Foods produced organically, locally and seasonally taste better, often contain more nutritional value than their frozen, dried or canned counterparts; and, are usually more affordable.
Lastly, take your own mind-body constitutions into account. Do you run hot or cold?
On this, the first day of fall, get your mind and body back in sync by respecting organic, local and seasonal movements, and by eating according to the Ayurveda diet.
ABOUT LORETTE STEENMAN: Lorette is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Yoga Instructor at P3 Health, who is available for nutrition counselling, as well as private and group yoga sessions.
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