Food is Medicine – Tool for your Aging Life Care Management box
Holistic Aging Care Management practice in Pittsburgh PA
September 23rd brought forth the autumn equinox, and with it, you may have noticed some variation in the types of foods that you find yourself craving.
If you have studied the subjects of Food Energetics, Macrobiotics, or any Chinese-Asian eating philosophies, you should know that the seasons play a big role in determining your menu choices for achieving optimal health. The good news is that we have an innate sense of what to eat seasonally, without doing much research.
I can tell you that based on the above philosophies during the colder and dryer climates of fall and winter it is important to keep warmer and prevent Dryness as we strengthen the interior-Yin. We can use the powers of food-energetics for nourishing Yang and warmth, building Yin, nourishing Dryness, dispelling mucus and Phlegm, and building Qi, Blood and Body Fluids for the present and coming seasons.
While that might sound a bit foreign to you, I bet without knowing what any of that means, you have made at least one pot of chili or hearty soup already this ‘season’.
To me, the goal is how to tweak these ‘natural’ tendencies that we have in the healthiest of ways, so they are not self-defeating. One way to accomplish this is to eat food grown in the local environment in which you live and consume the crops in the season when they naturally grow. Here in PA we should still be able to find lots of local produce at our Farmers’ Markets: Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collards, Peppers, Pumpkins, and Apples. We may have access to some PA grown nectarines as well as late-harvest tomatoes. With our recent rain the window is closing on the latter.
Fall is a season of ‘maturity’, but there are some natural potential health issues that arise at this time. We see a rise in grief, sadness, and detachment, (depression, SAD, anxiety) as our days are shorter and we begin to spend more time in darkness. Cold/Flu season and the byproducts thereof has commenced – our own office has already experienced some unwanted germs! Additionally, autumn correlates with the lung system, which dominates skin, respiration, body fluids, metabolism, blood circulation, immunity and melancholy emotion.
If you do find yourself suffering with a cold and excess phlegm and mucous, try avoiding milk and milk products, fatty red meat, white flour and sugar, and be careful of your caffeine consumption as this causes dehydration which tends to thicken mucous. Some alternatives would be to increase your acids; lemon juice and raw apple cider vinegar are extremely helpful in breaking up mucous.
To ward off the blues, try enriching your diet and looking for recipes that contain the following ingredients: Turkey, walnuts, fatty fish, complex carbs, green tea, turmeric, apples, seeds and nuts. You’ve probably heard about the food/mood connection with tryptophan; it promotes healthy sleep and a more stable mood. Your best sources are seeds, pumpkin and squash to be precise. NOTE, these are currently in season! You could also go with sunflower, hemp, flax, and chia. Additionally, good to get a daily supply of selenium, and this can be accomplished with just 2 Brazil nuts per day.
A ‘catch-all’ sweet for the season would be an apple crisp, made with rolled oats, with some seeds thrown in, and sweetened with honey or maple syrup vs. sugar. One last emotional/nutrient tip – try to get outside for at least 20 minutes at ‘high noon’ to get some sun, aka Vitamin D.
As we approach this season of REST, it is important to consider your portion sizes, slowing down when you eat, savoring your food. This is a vastly different concept than a bear storing up for winter!
In addition – this time of year is perfect for dinner parties, get togethers with friends/family/community. Not quite Thanksgiving yet, but that should give you an idea. Use the late summer harvest to share in this experience with others.
With our evenings growing shorter, it should be easier to be mindful in our evening hours to focus on relaxation. Adequate sleep is essential, and you may find that you are starting to require just a bit more shut-eye than you did during Spring/Summer. Take advantage. It will do your body good.
When you think about heading into winter, the visual of batting down the hatches comes to my mind; make sure everything needed is maximized, and anything unnecessary is eliminated. PURGE. Fall is a perfect time to detox!
With the above in mind, here are three new Best Food For The Season recipes that you can use to make the best use of the Fall Harvest.
Bobbi (Barbara) Kolonay RN BSN MS CCM
Fellow of the Leadership Academy Aging Life Care Association
Past Board of Directors Aging Life Care Association
President of: HOLISTIC AGING & OPTIONS FOR ELDER CARE
4284 Route 8 Ste #103 Allison Park PA 15101