The theme for our seasonal eating during the winter months is Conserving. During the winter, we receive less direct energy from the sun and fresh foods, so we must derive our energy from each other and our internal sources of energy production.
The primary concepts for thinking about how to nourish your family during the winter months are:
Support the endocrine system
The endocrine, or hormone production system helps us produce three primary types of
1. Energy from our adrenal glands we use each day to feel awake (cortisol), cope with
stressors (adrenaline),and digest our food (noradrenaline).
2. Longer-term energy to effectively utilize our food and turn it into new cells (thyroid)
3. Reproductive energy (Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone)
Foods that support the endocrine system are those that have high mineral and trace mineral content, keep the blood sugar balanced, and promote good sleep (see below)
Balance blood sugar
Keeping the blood sugar balanced allows the body to have sustained energy throughout
the day. When we eat high refined carbohydrate foods, the blood sugar will spike and
then drop throughout the day, causing the adrenals to have to unnecessarily produce cortisol. When we eat foods high in protein and fiber and lower in sugars and refined starches, it allows the body to use our food for energy rather than our hormones, and decreases stress upon our adrenals
Get adequate sleep
Sleep is the time when our body processes food and turns it into new cells; it also
replenishes the organs with energy for the next day. If we do not get enough sleep or our
sleep is interrupted this depletes our hormone producing organs because we have to
make more hormones to have adequate energy. Imbalanced blood sugar that drops low
during the night can also cause us to wake and experience insomnia.
Eat foods with bountiful stored energy
Foods with dense caloric content (protein, fat) as well as high mineral and vitamin
content will help us to support our endocrine system, balance blood sugar, and sleep well. Meats, beans, eggs and nuts are good examples of this type of food.
Although this is not strictly about food, our bonds with our loved ones are so important
during the winter months. Our ability to share warmth and energy with one another, ease stress, and bring light to each other’s lives during the winter is a crucial form of nourishment for all of us when the skies are darker and the weather is cold.