Eating for Year-Round Health: October Tips
October is one of my favorite months! I was born in October, I was married in October, and it’s when we really start to feel the transition from summer to winter. And to be clear, it’s not the cold temperatures that excite me, but the food that nature starts providing!
When we straddle two major seasons like the major growing season of summer and the major harvesting season of fall we have some things to pay attention to. Depending upon where you live it might feel like you are moving into winter fast or it might feel like you are holding onto summer. What that means for eating with the seasons is that you want to cross-reference foods intended for summer with foods intended for winter. Any foods that are intended to be eaten in both summer and winter are your super foods for fall…meaning you can eat them in higher quantities. I’ve included a list below!
Also, depending upon where you live, you can shift more towards winter foods on colder days and summer foods on warmer days. If the forecast is calling for cooler weather, include lots of soups and stews in your meal plan for the upcoming week. If a week of warmer weather then rolls in go back to eating cooler foods, like fruit.
The reason we want to start transitioning away from the fruits of summer and more toward the root vegetables and squashes of fall is because the microbes in the soil are changing. The microbes populating the fall harvest foods, such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, and winter squashes, are designed to keep us healthy through the winter. More specifically, this season of microbes are going to strengthen our immune systems, increase our internal heat, and support our digestive fire…which is SO neat!
Why you ask?
Because throughout October the circadian clock is moving toward shorter days and longer nights. As a result, we are moving into a time of year when we naturally burn less calories due to being less physically active. At the same time we are moving into a time of eating more dense foods. With winter, comes foods that are higher in fat and higher in protein. It’s nature’s plan for us to put on a little weight during the winter months to insulate us from the colder temperatures. Also, science tells us that in the winter our parasympathetic activity starts to increase. And the parasympathetic nervous system is all about resting and digesting.
How perfect is that?
At a time of year when days are getting shorter and temperatures are getting colder the microbes on the fall harvest foods ramp up our digestive fire…bringing balance to the fact that we are moving less and eating more.
It is also important in October to bring awareness to the reality that we have largely lost the ability to burn fat as a source of fuel. This is the result of the food industry taking fat out of our diet and replacing it with corn and wheat and sugar 50 years ago(ish). And because we’ve lost the ability to make energy last for long periods of time we end up eating every 2 or 3 hours…which does not benefit your body. Eating something every few hours does not promote you living a healthy life, even if that something is small and “healthy”! This is because you are not giving your body the opportunity to burn fat as a stable source of fuel, but rather using the food you most recently ate as short-term energy.
As we move into fall and winter we get the opportunity to reset our systems for burning fat. Going into the parasympathetic time your body will tell you that it needs to make energy last longer. Nights are longer and you don’t want to be eating at night so you need to rely on longer lasting fuel. To do this, start experimenting with intermittent fasting.
I.F. is simply not putting anything in your mouth (other than water) after supper, which hopefully doesn’t end after 6pm and not putting anything (again, except plain water) in your mouth until breakfast the next morning. Novel idea, I know! You want to go between 13 and 16 hours between supper and breakfast (when your BREAK your FAST) without any caloric intake.
Playing with a fast time that is between 13 and 16 hours will help you become a better digester and a better assimilator, which will naturally translate into being a better detoxifier! Not only that, but it will free up time, thought, and money in your day!
Going back to talking about microbes. Get to your local farmer’s market this week, buy a bunch of apples and root vegetables and squashes AND don’t wash them too much! You don’t want to bring home a bunch of beautiful carrots and then sterilize them. Those carrots are loaded with beneficial microbes that need to become part of your microbiome to give you the immunity and the mood stability that you want!
Here are a list of foods that are appropriate for both summer and winter, making them supper foods in the month of October:
Other winter squashes
Mung - split, yellow
Nuts & Seeds:
Dairy: (ideally at room temperature or warm, favor raw & vat-pasteurized)