Beyond the latest developments in nutritional science, and far deeper than the eating trend du jour lies the animal body into which we were born. Despite all our modern conveniences, some part of us is still connected to our natural environment.
I’m very blessed to live in a beautiful part of the world where we cycle through four full seasons every year and are touched by the ocean surrounding us every day. There’s a natural synchronicity between the animals and the plant foods that thrive here, and in every living environment. Eating native plants can protect and support the local animals, including the human ones, helping to guard against certain environmental conditions, and even seasonal bugs and allergies.
Though we no longer have the automatic instincts of the wild world, we still have access to them. The land around us and the time of year can give us clues about the food choices, eating styles and practices that best support us as human animals to thrive where we’re planted.
One of the deep seasonal calls in October is to ground our energy and slow down. After a busy September, it’s not uncommon to fall into the more settled rhythms and routines of fall. Our minds and bodies are unconsciously preparing for the cooling weather and shrinking daylight hours.
To support a smooth transition for yourself, take a few moments before shopping for groceries to think about which foods are attracting you. What would feel the best right now – a warming soup or stew? Bitter, chewy greens? Maybe the sweet-tart tang of freshly pressed apple cider? As you peruse the aisles of the store, even virtually, or the stalls of the farmer’s market if you’re lucky, notice what calls to you.
In October it can feel balancing to choose your fresh produce with an eye to the deep, rich hues of autumn – gold, green, orange and red, and to select of variety of different, toothier textures. Look for foods with some soft sweetness and density, such as the winter squashes, parsnips and yams. And be sure to include plenty of dark leafy greens, as they are a nutrient backbone of many fall climates.
In preparing your meals, favor warmer versus cooler temperatures, such as stews or hearty soups. Our bodies are looking for the heat, but not quite ready yet for the heaviest winter foods. Broth-based meals will satisfy, without providing too much calorie density. But it’s lovely to also include some raw foods you’re drawn to, such as local apples, pears and salads of sweeter, tender greens, like red lettuce, or massaged heavier greens, such as Lacinato kale.
And finally, regardless of what’s in your bowl, a wonderful practice for this month is to slow down the pace of your actual eating. This act, an interruption of a deeply habituated practice, can have the effect of calming and soothing your entire system and improving your digestion. You might also feel more satisfied with a smaller amount – while increasing your eating pleasure. This is helpful in preparation for the holiday feasting to come.
A simple balancing practice: if it appeals, at the start of your meal try to thoroughly chew one bite of food, and then consciously take one breath of air. Chew one bite, sip one breath….. ahhhhh.