Beauty and health is built from the inside, out:
What about if I asked you to show me your beautifying ritual? You'd probably grab some face masks, makeup or high-vibe oils, right?! But what if I told you that what you put IN your body is just as important as what you put ON it. And no - I am not talking only about supplements, either! Vitamins and minerals are best absorbed by the body when we get them from whole plant foods - the way that nature intended. Albeit great marketing by the pharmaceutical companies, if we really think about it, it's illogical to go through the trouble of extracting vitamins and minerals from the earth and condensing them into pill form. If we simply eat whole foods we receive better delivery, absorption and assimilation of the bodies essential beauty compounds like amino acids, complex proteins, antihistamines, probiotics, prebiotics, UV protectants, free-radical inhibitors, vitamins and minerals. It is even true that many fruits and veggies are rich in specific combinations of these compounds that are only absorbed with the others present (the vitamin C content in kale, helps your body to absorb the veggies' rich iron count, for example).
According to research from the book ‘Eat Pretty’ by Jolene Hart, food and lifestyle can positively or negatively affect up to 80% of your bodies DNA processes. It is commonly noted that we have a second brain in our gut that processes nutrients as well as emotions. In other words, the way you treat yourself through food can help to determine your health and wellbeing for the rest of your life. I like to look at food as the ultimate tool for wellness - treating my body better though food is my first defense against illness and dis-ease. The closer I get to my food by choosing it intentionally, preparing it healthfully and eating it mindfully I am better able to slow down and notice. I have come to know myself better by eating seasonally and that is the ultimate gift.
Let’s talk: Your Seasonal Body
We are seasonal creatures made to flow with the seasons! Our bodies crave different things at different times of the year to keep us balanced - warm and nourishing in the winter, hydrating and cool in the summer . Think of how desirable a watermelon is on a hot, humid day vs. digging into one during a winter storm. Humans are adaptable, opportunistic creatures - meaning we are literally made for seasonal changes. Ever notice how chilly it feels after the first fall frost, but come March you’re fine wearing flip flops if the temp peeks above 40*? Let your body be your guide when it comes to eating seasonally.
The Seasons as a Cycle: An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurveda, yoga's 5,000 year old sister science explains the real-life applications of living a spiritual life and although it's roots an in India (a climate very different to our own) I find a lot of season-based inspiration in it's teachings. First of all, ayurveda looks at the seasons as well as the bodies different process as a fluid cycle rather than separate and distinct - this helps us to see everything from a more holistic point of view. In ayurveda, rather than seeking a perfect and pristine state of being we learn that our bodies are always in flux and balance is a teetering scale rather than a steady state. It's teachings also instruct that we can balance our dominant qualities through holistic self-care practices - eating simply, moving in ways that feel good, and by consistently showing up for ourselves.
To find out more about ayurveda, and how certain foods interact with your constitution click here!
Let’s Talk: Eating Un-local, but still seasonal produce
We live in a world where eating local, seasonal food is not always practical. For eons, it was the only way but in modern day we are lucky enough to have fresh fruits and vegetables from places like Argentina and Australia available here in Connecticut year round. I like to go by the GOOD/BETTER/BEST rule when it comes to seasonal but non-local produce - if I am craving something sweet, ripe and juicy and find a mango in my market from Mexico that is GOOD, if I am craving the same thing but find a Cantaloupe from the Carolinas instead that is BETTER, and if I find a local watermelon at a farm stand that is BEST. That being said, listen to your body - if you want the mango, eat the mango. Mangoes are in season in the northern hemisphere starting in June so from a broad perspective, you’re right on target. We are very lucky to have these foods available to us, so savor them as such. When in doubt as to a particular fruit or veggies’ seasonality, do a quick google search while in the store based on the country of origin on the sticker: “Hey Siri, when are mangoes in season in Mexico?”. I do like to draw the line between hemispheres though - if you’re getting strawberries from Argentina in February, we can almost guarantee they will be unripe and flavorless - opt for frozen instead or find yourself a fruit was likely picked more recently and closer to where you are (California dates and oranges are great in February).
Many varieties of fruit and vegetables that have a certain growing season are now grown in controlled greenhouses year round and they taste consistently great! But, are these items technically “in-season” year round? I think this is for each person to decide on their own as a case by case basis because who doesn’t love a little bit of avocado toast in January, am I right?!
Let’s Talk: Organic vs. seasonal vs. non-organic produce
By now most of us know that it’s better to choose locally grown over the organic label. Many small, local farms don’t have the money or the time to acquire the proper certifications to label their food organic - in the case of farmers markets and roadside stands, just ask your vendors about their growing conditions - oftentimes they use organic methods. When it comes to choosing between organic and non-organic - I again like to follow the GOOD/BETTER/BEST rule. If you can afford the organic option by all means go for it, but if eating organic means that you have to spend your full paycheck just to enjoy an avocados and tomatoes - go for conventional. Yes, organic is BEST but conventional fruit and veg is BETTER than fast food or processed options.
Let’s Talk: Eating Seasonally in Cold Weather
Although we are in the height of summer now, we do live in a somewhat extreme climate of hot and cold. As we discussed earlier, if we listen to our bodies we tend to discover that we crave warm, nourishing, cooked foods in the winter and cool, hydrating, raw foods in the summer. The internal body matches the external world. Now, we all know that not much grows in the northeast in the dead of winter but that doesn’t have to stop you from eating seasonally. Again, I ask you to refer to the GOOD/BETTER/BEST rule here. While cleansing might be all the rage come January 1st - I urge you to use caution in committing to a week long cold-liquids detox as your body craves warmth and nourishment. Instead opt for a soup cleanse (yes, they exist) or if you must juice, be sure to supplement with warm herbal teas or broths.