Tag Archives: healthy eating

Seasonal Eating for Optimal Health



In Portland, you often hear people talking about focusing on eating locally, organically grown and seasonally appropriate foods.  These buzz words can be overwhelming for someone just trying to get a meal on the table for themselves or their families.  It is easy to become confused by the multiple messages about what to eat and where to buy your food.  Some have even asked, “What does seasonal eating even mean?”  Seasonal eating is a philosophy of eating where your diet is adjusted according to what is currently growing in your own region.  Seasonal eating focuses on eating food that will support your body in the particular season you are experiencing.   With today’s modern grocery stores, you can find almost any food you desire at any time of the year.  This may seem like a benefit of our modern transportation, refrigeration and grocery system but many are discovering the amazing advantages of eating fresh, locally harvested food.

Benefits of Seasonal Eating

  • Eating seasonally benefits the environment because less pollution is created and less fuel is used to transport the food to market.
  • Eating seasonally is usually less expensive.  Food in season is generally more abundant and has less transportation costs so it takes a smaller bite out of your wallet.
  • Produce harvested and eaten in season has more vitamins and minerals than foods harvested far away, unripe and then shipped long distances.  Seasonally appropriate food also tastes better.  Who can forget the joy of biting into a fresh, ripe tomato straight from the vine?
  • Eating with the season forces you to eat a varied diet.  As foods move in and out of season you are forced to change the food on your plate.
  • Eating seasonally connects us to nature.  As the variety of produce changes, it forces us to take notice of what is happening in the natural world.

Many areas of the United States have a limited growing season making it virtually impossible to eat locally and in season all of the time. Unfortunately the Northwest is one of those areas.   If eating seasonally in the dead of winter seems daunting, there are some steps you can take.   Portland has many year round local farmers’ markets- visiting one may spark creative ideas for new foods.  You can also join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm to form a personal connection with your farmer and the foods he/she is harvesting.   While it might not always be possible to purchase your seasonal produce locally, the next best thing is to purchase what’s in season in a region in close proximity.  This practice will help minimize shipping time and increase flavor.

To find out what’s harvested seasonally in our area, go to www.localharvest.org to find local farmers’ markets and seasonal produce guides.

As Spring approaches, what fresh produce are you looking forward to enjoying?

Photo by Francis Andrew on Flickr.


5 Tips for A More Sustainable Life

  1. 4643772171_5005cce317Eat Seasonally:  Eating food that is currently in season for your part of the world helps to reduce pollution.  When you live in the Pacific Northwest and buy a nectarine in the middle of January, you can be sure it was not grown locally.  Food that travels a long way  requires more energy and has a greater impact on the environment before it reaches your plate.  Also, because it must travel so far, it is often picked when it is not ripe leading to a less than fresh taste.
  2. Ditch the Plastic Water Bottles:  Bottled water causes a whole host of problems.  Americans consume over 1500 bottles of water every second.  These bottles are clogging our landfills because only a small percentage of them are recycled.  The plastic in the bottles has also been found to leach harmful endocrine disrupting chemicals into the water and bottled water cost significantly more than tap water.  Buy yourself an inexpensive water filter, save significant dollars at the grocery store and avoid exposing yourself to harmful chemicals.
  3. Reduce Your Meat Consumption:  Meat can be an important part of a meal but reducing your overall meat consumption can have a big impact on the environment. It takes roughly twenty-five times more energy to produce one calorie of beef than to produce one calorie of corn for human consumption.  However, you don’t have to give up meat entirely.  Try going meatless just one day a week or even just making meat an accent part of the meal and not the main course.  Every bit of meat consumption reduction makes a positive contribution to the environment.
  4. Grow Your Own Food:  Not everyone has room to plant a giant garden in their backyard but most people have room for a few pots for herbs or tomatoes.  Squeeze in a small container garden wherever you find  a patch of sun.  Food just picked from your plants offers the freshest, most sustainable option in food production.
  5. Cook Your Own Food:  Cooking your own food allows you to have greater control over what is actually in your food and how it is prepared.  With that control, you can be sure your ingredients are produced in a responsible, sustainable manner.  Besides, nothing tastes better than a home cooked meal prepared with love from the ingredients you grew in your own yard.

Tiny Tip Tuesday: Eat with Attention

Photo by Tambako the Jaguar.

Photo by Tambako the Jaguar.

We have all had the experience of sitting down with a bowl of chips and salsa while watching the big game or sat down to eat breakfast with the morning paper only to look down a few minutes later and realize we have consumed the whole bowl of chips or eaten all of our breakfast with no memory of putting anything in our mouth.  Not only have we missed the pleasure of savoring the tasty food we have prepared for our self but we also run the risk of eating past the point of being full.  When we overstuff our stomachs, not only can it be extremely uncomfortable but it also makes it more difficult for our digestive system to function properly.

Mindful eating offers us a solution to this problem.  Mindful eating is eating with attention to what is going into your mouth.  It allows you to be fully present in the experience of eating.  It requires you to pay attention to the sight, sound, texture, flavors and taste of your food.  When you are eating mindfully, you can listen to the cues your body is providing about satiety, making it more likely you will stop eating before you become over full.

Here are a couple of tips to make it easier to start eating mindfully.

  1. Make sure you are actually hungry before you start to eat.  If you are only eating because you are bored or anxious then even if you fill yourself with a piece of delicious chocolate cake, you will still be bored or anxious when you finish.
  2. Choose food you are actually interested in eating.  If you are only eating something because it is “good” for you, it will be difficult for you to actually feel satisfied when you are finished.  This dissatisfaction could send you hunting in the fridge for something to fill you up.
  3. Create a pleasant environment for your meal.  Sit down at the table.  Don’t eat while driving or talking on the phone.  Choose a spot that is only for eating and have all of your meals in this space.
  4. Eat without distractions.  This means no reading the newspaper, watching tv or surfing the web.
  5. Take a few deep breaths before you start eating to center yourself and get focused on the meal.
  6. Allow yourself the luxury of time.  Put your fork down between bites and focus on chewing your food completely.  It takes about 20 minutes for your body to recognize satiety clues.
  7. Pay attention to your food.  Notice the taste, texture, smell  and appearance of every bite.
  8. Stop eating when you feel about 80% full.  Step away from the table as soon as you are done eating.
  9. Notice how you feel when you finish eating.  If you feel over full, don’t beat yourself up.  Remember you have another chance to make a different choice at your next meal.

For most of us, eating mindfully represents a shift in our relationship to food.  As with all new habits, eating with focus and attention will take some time to develop.  However, I am confident that if you keep working on this skill, you will notice a real change in your experience with food.

This post is part of The Party Bunch Linky party.

Twelve Terrific Tips For Healthy Eating

Photo by Jonathan Willier

Photo by Jonathan Willier


Before enrolling in the Wholistic Nutrition Program at the Wellspring School for Healing Arts, I took an Intro to Wholistic Nutrition class at the school.  I knew nutrition was a topic for which I had a deep passion  but this class really cemented for me that I wanted to pursue a career in supporting and guiding people in their quest for better health through nutrition.  It was while taking this class that I made the final decision to enroll in the Wholistic Nutrition program.

In our first class, we were given realms of handouts with information about health and nutrition.  While it was all very informative and interesting, there was one handout which had the most profound impact on my day to day interactions with food.  This handout gives everyone a down and dirty primer on ways to increase digestion and get the most out of the foods consumed.  Take a look at the Terrific Twelve handout down below.

The Terrific Twelve

1. Eat breakfast or nutrient dense food in the morning when your body can assimilate the most
from food.

2. Don’t wait until you are starving to eat. If you wait till you are hungry to eat, your blood sugar
has already dropped and you will be more likely to crave sugar and/or refined carbohydrates.

3. Avoid eating while angry, under stress, or with people you don’t like. Your food will not
digest properly if you are angry or upset. Enjoying your food and being content when you eat
allows your bodies to literally accept the food more effectively into our systems.

4. Eat slowly and thoroughly. Chew your food well! Carbohydrate digestion begins in the
mouth with the enzyme salivary amylase or ptyalin. Challenge yourself to make a habit of
chewing your food until it is all of one consistency.

5. Practice eating mindfully. Sit down, turn off the T.V, put down your book and avoid
unpleasant conversation.

6. Toss the microwave! Studies indicate the damage or negative effect that microwaving can
have on our bodies. From a Traditional Chinese Medcine perspective microwaving renders the food energetically dead.

7. Refrain from drinking with your meals. Drinking with meals will dilute the enzymes and acids
necessary for proper food digestion. Drink 20 minutes before or after your meal.   However, a cup of warm
tea or glass of wine may actually enhance digestion.

8. Eat a variety, Eat Simply. This is not a contradiction. Eat lots of different varieties of food
over a day or week, but make you meals simple and avoid complex combinations of foods
within the meal itself.

9. Eat until you are satiated, not until you’re full.

10. When possible eat an early dinner, preferably by 7 pm. Your body is less capable of digesting heavy or
complex meals at night.

11. Don’t chill the Spleen. The digestive process needs warmth.  Too much raw, cold, frozen
foods or iced drinks will dampen the digestive fire.

12. Give thanks for your food and thank yourself for eating consciously. Prepare food with love
and consciousness.

I love these tips and try to incorporate most of them into my everyday diet.  I would like to be able to say I follow 100% of these tips, 100% of the time.  Unfortunately, I don’t!  I still have a microwave! (Although, I use it very rarely.)  I cannot give up reading the morning paper when I eat breakfast!  And I am  not always good at stopping eating before I reach the full point!  I have made progress and I always try to keep in mind the 80-20 rule I learned in my Intro to Wholistic Nutrition class.  Eat to nourish your body 80% of the time and the other 20% can be for pure enjoyment.  I know I am not perfect in my eating habits but I also know the changes I have made have gone a long way in improving my health.  What healthy changes have you recently made?

See more of Johathan Willier’s photos on Flickr.

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