Living in balance with the seasons - Winter

Adjusting one’s diet and lifestyle according to the seasons is a really enjoyable way to live. Most of us could do with simplifying our diet in the winter month, especially after the indulgences of the festive season.

To my mind though, this is not the time of year to undertake a full detoxification program. The time to focus on detox is after the spring equinox, around 21 March, when there is a natural shift in the body’s energies that leads to a natural release or ‘passive detox’.

So here are my top 10 tips to optimize health through winter and gently ease ourselves towards spring :-

1. Hydrate the body. Make sure you drink 2 litres of clean water daily, ideally warm. Start your day with a glass of hot water with the juice of a quarter of a lemon to wake up the liver and bowel. Limit caffeine to one cup daily or avoid altogether.
2. Eat plenty of seasonal vegetables including dark green leafy veg and root vegetables.
3. Use cooking methods that match the energy of the food. Vegetables of this season often grow slowly, in the dark, underground, so prepare hearty stews and soups, cooked slowly, with the lid on.
4. Include pulses and beans. They are good sources of protein and fibre as well as being very nurturing for the kidneys, whose health, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is governed by the winter season.
5. If you meat includes meat, choose organic where possible to avoid antibiotic residues.
6. Rest more. Go to bed a little earlier, maybe with a good book. Switch off all devices with screens and treat yourself to a warm, candlelit bath with a few drops of relaxing oils before bed.
7. Once a week, have an Epsom Salts. Dissolve a kilo of salts in a hot bath and soak for 20 minutes. This helps to relax the muscles and gently draws toxicity out through the skin. Best done before bed.
8. Spend time outdoors every day and appreciate the still beauty of nature at this time of year. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is part of the Water element, so spending time near water can be especially balancing. Dress warmly and wear a hat.
9. Practice gentle exercise that focuses on stretches and core strength such as yoga, pilates or tai chi. A step counter can be a good way to motivate you to become more active.
10. Take time each day to ‘tune in’. Join a meditation group or join a mindfulness class.