1.Eat seasonally and locally
Our bodies adjust to our environment and the foods that naturally grow here help us maintain an internal climate that keeps us warm in the winter months and cools us in the heat of summer.
According to the five elements, salty is the flavour of winter, which brings energy down and in. This includes seaweeds, kelp and Himalayan salts. It helps to moisten dryness, soften hard masses and reduce stiffness, but should be used in caution for those who have high blood pressure or edema.
Pineapple is an example of a food that does not grow here and should not be consumed in the winter. Its cooling nature works well in hot humid climates. Raw food diets are more suited for the summer, while stews and beef broths keep us warm throughout winter.
2. Never eat cold foods, NEVER!
The nature of cold is to slow down and contract. What happens to oils or fats placed it the cold? It solidifies. Imagine what could be going on inside our bodies!
Our stomach is like a boiling pot that dissolves and digests food before its energy can be used by our bodies. When we eat cold foods, such as iced drinks, ice cream, raw foods or salads, our body takes energy from the peripheral in order to “heat up the digestive pot” before it’s broken down and processed. This is vital energy that keeps our immune system strong, especially in this Canadian cold.
Drink liquids at room temperature. Let your smoothie sit for 10 minutes. If you must have ice cream, do so sparingly and drink a hot tea afterwards. These guidelines are especially important if you are showing signs of coldness- sluggish digestion, bloating, edema, poor circulation, low energy, or excess mucus.
3. Protect your kidneys at all costs
The kidneys are known to hold our ‘Jing’- ancestral qi, or vital energy that we are born with. The other type of energy is the type we attain from diet and lifestyle. It is the foundation of all yin and yang qualities in the body, which influences all organs and their functions. Kidney deficiencies can show up as pain in the lower back, knees or joints, infertility, premature aging, or any problem with the ears and urinary tract. It also controls all reproductive functions from fertility to growth and development. Excessive fear is also known to damage the kidneys.
The kidneys are located in the lower back region, so it is important to keep them covered and warm during the winter. Eat kidney building foods such as barley, black beans, mushrooms, almonds and seaweeds. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol and sleep at a reasonable hour. We should live a balanced life with includes work, rest and play.
*These tips are based on the teachings of Marjorie Silcolff, our resident Acupressure and Traditional Chinese Medicine supervisor.