I continue to be completely entranced with how perfectly our world provides for all of our needs. As the spring begins to warm the earth, our bodies are gifted with fresh greens, mushrooms, and wild ramps. In the summertime, we are abundantly blessed with fresh vegetables to eat. We enjoy green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squashes, peppers, and corn graciously. Then fall comes, and we welcome the root vegetables to our tables paired with the fresh venison and beef that we've harvested. But what about winter?
Our bodies in winter are different than our bodies in summer, and the food that's available is part of the reason for it. In summer, food is readily available and easy to access, meaning our bodies don't need to hold onto food for as long because another meal is ready for us when we need it. This isn't the case in winter. As the seasons change and the cold sets in, our bodies cling onto fat as a way to survive the winter where food is scarce. To survive, the goal is to not starve to death, so hanging onto fat and overindulging is a natural occurrence in the wintertime.
Winter also brings more darkness as the days shorten, which our bodies directly react to. Less light means an earlier bedtime, well naturally-speaking of course. Artificial lighting has played a role in how long the day seems to extend, but naturally our bodies are designed to begin to prepare for sleep as soon as the sun goes down. Our gut is partially responsible for triggering the release of some of those sleep hormones, and getting that essential amount of sleep is incredibly important for gut health and digestion.
So what does this all mean? Well, as homesteaders, it's our goal to get in tune with the natural rhythms and changes of the seasons as we seek to live off of the land. This means adjusting with the seasons in how we live and how we eat.
Our winter bodies need sleep and traditional winter foods to maintain our gut health- the home to so much that brings us overall health. Our gut not only is a contributor to a healthy and strong immune system, which we need in the winter as cold and flu season sets in, but it also plays a big role in our mood, heart and brain health, and our digestion. Our gut health is huge!
So how can we naturally take care of our gut? Here are some healthy food options and ways to keep your gut healthy and happy this winter!
Eat Fermented Foods
You know that cabbage you preserved through fermentation? Eat that! Our ancestors knew what they were doing when they made sauerkraut as a staple for winter eating. Fermentation allows healthy bacteria to enter into your gut with its probiotic properties, helping to restore peace and tranquility. :) Fermenting foods is really easy and there are lots of great recipes out there to try. Some of my favorites include:
Feed that gut!
Get Enough Sleep
Do you notice yourself feeling more tired in winter? Give into that feeling! It's ok to allow your body to adapt to its biological callings! Winter is a time for rest. If you can, try to get to sleep earlier in winter. Help your body to naturally recognize the shortened days by lighting your house with dim lights, like lamps and candles, rather than bright lights.
Eat with the Seasons
I know, there's nothing in season right now in Wisconsin. But think about what our ancestors would have eaten had they lived here. What did the Native Americans eat who lived here? A diet filled with root vegetables, squashes, meat, and grains are probably your best bet. Eating with the seasons helps to feed your body the nutrients it naturally needs during the time of year that it needs it. And if you have your own food that you preserved, enjoy it! But eating a fresh watermelon in the middle of winter...probably not super natural.
Being outside helps our body to know what season it is. The cold and darkness trigger biological responses in us to for adaptation. Allow it to happen! Be in sync with the natural world. I know I always feel better after being outside, no matter how short of time it is.
Nature continues to provide for us in all ways and all things that we need. I encourage you to listen to it! I am not perfect, there are many things that I too struggle with in terms of naturally living with the seasons. For instance, it's been dark for quite some time, yet I'm up writing this blog post late into the evening because it's my time to be by myself. There are lots of things that are not natural about that! However, striving to do our best to return back to nature can only bring us peace as we fall back into step with the plan set by our Creator. It can't hurt to try our best.
How do you prepare your own body and home for winter?
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