One of the biggest questions I get from clients is, “What should I eat?”
And I totally get why! They have not only been overfed on processed food, but also on diet dogma, leaving most folks more confused than ever before. They want clarity and they want an answer.
Sometimes, it frustrates people when I don’t give them an answer that’s black and white. And I don’t do that for good reasons.
First, we are all so damn unique. When I was a student at IIN, I really learned the concept of bio-individuality and that what might make one person thrive could make another feel lackluster at best. There has to be an openness to experiment, try different foods, and figure out what is a true match.
Second, even when we do that, we have to also realize that what works at one time for us may not work so well in the future. Now there are a load of reasons why that may be true, but one of the universal truths is that seasons not only change the weather, they inevitably change what foods show up on our plate.
Well, ideally they would. The problem is, most of us are so far removed from our true connection to food that we don’t even think to consider how seasonal and local food should play a factor in our “what should I eat?” dilemma.
When we allow what is seasonally available to help dictate the greater part of what’s on our plate, we are actually eating the way nature intended and tuning into our intuitive nature around food.
All on her own, Mother Nature gives you exactly what you need at just the right time.
Feeling weighed down after the heavier food of winter? No problem – enjoy lighter seasonal spring fare such as berries, dandelion, and an assortment of greens.
Need to beat the summer heat? Enjoy the cooling effects of foods such as watermelon, cucumber, and summer salads.
Obviously, you add and take out what you need based on your personal preferences but the general idea is the nature has it oh-so-right if only we would listen. Eating this way takes care of the bodies changing seasonal needs and also allows us to have a beautifully varied diet, making sure we don’t get into a nutritional or culinary rut.
But here’s the extra bonus. When we eat seasonal, we also typically eat more local fare, which gives our planet and our local farmers a much needed boost. On average, food travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. That’s not only insane, but also terribly destructive to the environment, not to mention local growers. Think of all the planes, trains, and automobiles that it takes to get that mango to your table in the dead of winter. (And I won’t even get into the whole “organic and sustainably grown issues”…that’s a whole other post. )
When you adopt a seasonal and in turn local approach to eating, you are able to connect to your food at a whole other level. A big part of that includes hitting up your local farmers’ markets. My fiance Mike and I relish our weekly trips to them. We love talking to the very farmers’ who grow our veggies, and we get to get the inside scoop on the practices they use to grow them. We have a relationship with them. We love how they will carefully pick out the most perfectly ripened peaches for us or, because they know how much we adore them, warn us to grab as many Meyer Lemons as possible because the season is ending in two weeks. We wait in anticipation for cherry season to come, much in the same way we can’t wait for fall squashes to arrive. We feel connected to our community that much more and our meals take on a whole different meaning.
When you are connected to your food in this rich kind of way, diet dogma loses its appeal and food becomes pleasurable again.
Now again, I’m not saying that everything you eat has to be 100 percent seasonal and local. I would love to be at the place but truthfully I have some non-local indulgences. However, I would say about 90 percent of what we eat is and eating this way has not only changed my relationship to food, it’s also deepened my relationship to my own home, our one and only precious planet.
So the next time you are left wondering,”what should I eat?” check to see what’s fresh, seasonal, and local. The answers will be come clearer with each passing season.