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Living With The Seasons: Winter

I haven’t left my house in a few days and only then it was just long enough to walk my dog.  The weather has been a force to be reckoned with.  A blizzard, mountains of snow, cars in the ditch = loss of wanting to go outside.  I know that I am not alone in feeling this way.  In fact, in some parts of Minnesota, they’ve been advised against going anywhere.  We are in the depths of winter right now.  Motivation is hard to come by and all I really want to do is lay in my warm bed. 

It’s human nature to live with the seasons.  We rise with the sun (well, most of us), eat what is in season, wear the right clothes and do certain activities during different seasons.  This is living in harmony with nature.  Our nature changes depending on what time of year it is.  Because of these slight changes, our bodies can stay relatively healthy and more able to fight off illness.

I gravitate to Traditional Chinese Medicine’s approach to health.  During the winter, the energy in very Yin.  Yin is cold, dark, slow, inwards energy.  This is the opposite of Yang energy, seen during the summer.  Yang is light, hot, quick, and expansive.  In TCM, your diet and activities should reflect the nature of the season. 

Winter is associated with the kidneys according to TCM.  They are to be supported during the winter to ensure optimal health.  Rest is a wonderful way to support the kidneys.  That is why animals hibernate.  It is a time to look inward and practice the tools for self-connection.  Relax the mind, calm your body and raise the spirit.

The kidneys are associated with the ears.  In winter, silence is all around us.  The ability to hear clearly comes from healthy kidneys.  The quiet forces you to slow down and rest.

The bones are also connected to the kidneys.  Paying attention to your bone health will serve you.  That’s why bone broths are so awesome during the winter.  Lots of soups.  The properties of bone broth are warming and nourishing.  This helps when you’re feeling depleted from working lots of hours, lack of sleep, stress and excessive drugs and alcohol use.

Here are some foods that support kidney function:

  • Miso
  • Soy sauce
  • Roasted nuts
  • Millet and barley
  • Rye
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Whole grains
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Mico Algae (chlorella, spirulina and wild blue-green)
  • Seaweed
  • Warm hearty soups
  • Celery
  • Asparagus
  • Chicory root and burdock root
  • Dried foods
  • Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Root vegetables
  • Carrots

During the winter foods that are cooked slowly, over low heat and less water are just what the doctor ordered.  Rich stocks filled with hearty vegetables infused with heat helps the body stay warmer longer.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine you truly are what you eat.  By following this type of diet, we are following the rhythms of nature.  The body is designed to eat locally supplied food that are in season.  You can get whatever kind of food you want but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your bodies preferences.  If you want to stay healthy all year round, try living with the seasons.  They should be embraced, it’s easier to work with them than against. 

Winter brings the ending of chapters with the promise of new beginnings.  There is distance and silence.   Soon it will be time to start lusting over the seed catalog and planning my next move.  For now, I will stay in bed a little longer and move a little slower. 

If you’re looking for something awesome to watch on Netflix, I’ve been loving One Strange Rock.  It’s incredible! 

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