Keeping the digestive fire stoked all winter
About the Author
Tamsin Edwards is the office manager at Elevate Wellness Center (www.elevate-wellness.com). Visit us at 2034 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe.
Are you one of those die hard throw-it-all-in-a-blender-and-go smoothie fanatics who can’t get through the summer without drinking the rainbow in fruits and veggies every morning?
Come winter, you might realize that your body doesn’t quite respond in the same way to those cold berries and frozen bananas on a frosty morning. Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors and Ayurvedic practitioners advise to stay away from cooling ingredients during the long and cold months because they have a tendency to put out that all-important digestive fire and dampen the Qi, or life force.
Winter is the season of retreat and rest. The yin (cold, damp, stillness) energy is prevalent and the yang (hot, dry, active) moves inward. This time of year brings cold and dry elements with it and raw, cooling foods increase these qualities. You might find that you get stomach pain, bloating and various digestive issues after drinking cold drinks or consuming cooling foods. You might find it harder to stay warm and maintain good digestion, or to fight infections if you continually put these kinds of foods into your body.
Stay inside on stormy days where possible. To conserve Qi, it is best to stay warm, but not hot. Limit your hot showers or baths, don’t sit too close to the fire. The aim is to keep the yang circulating and drive out the cold energy in your body that makes things contract and slow down.
For those that want to stay toasty when it’s 15 degrees outside in the morning, maintain healthy energy levels and keep that digestive fire burning all day long for optimum wellness, there are some simple changes you can make to your diet — and you can even continue to drink your smoothies!
First, consume grounding, earthy, moisturizing foods. Winter squash, sweet potato and collard greens are energetically more warming than the summer veggies like lettuce, cucumber and celery. This is because they take longer to grow.
Defrost! It’s OK to eat those blueberries and bananas, but ensure your bananas are ripe, or best, overly ripe, and your berries are thawed. Ripe foods are easier to digest because nature has already “cooked” them.
Pick the warm colors! Orange, red and yellow foods are medicinally more warming to the body than the blue, green and purple foods.
Don’t forget to make protein and fat an element in each smoothie. This can be in the form of avocado, coconut oil, almond butter, hemp seeds, or nuts. This will help you feel fuller for longer.
Warming Fruits and Veggies:
Pumpkin or winter squash (cooked)
Sweet potato (cooked)
Herbs and Spices to Add:
Nuts, Seeds and Protein:
Here’s one to start you off: Date, Tahini and Cardamom
¾ cup unsweetened nut milk
3 medjool dates, soaked and pitted
2 tablespoon tahini (or other seed or nut butter)
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 ripe banana
1 pinch salt
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