The peppers have been picked, and the flowers hung to dry. The wood fire stove is lit. The crisp autumn air has signaled that change is upon us. After weeks of pickling, drying, and preserving the last of our garden’s bounty, it’s time to decompress and tend to our nutrition and self-care. And, our diets and routines will shift with the seasonal demands of our homestead.
In today’s fast-paced world, maintaining a healthy lifestyle has become very important. Nutrition & wellness are key aspects of overall well-being, impacting both our physical and mental health, especially through our changing environments. The time from the autumn equinox to the winter solstice is considered a lunar resting tide. It moves in after the reaping tides of summer. The resting tide asks that we slow down to reflect on what we’ve cultivated and harvested. Concurrently, we begin to find new balance among shifting elements within our environment through nutrition. To move through this part of the seasonal cycle, embrace this invitation to rest. It’s time to tend to your health and lend space for nourishment & reflection.
An Autumn Diet, Healthy Eating, & Your Fall Wellness Plan
In order to maintain balance and stay in optimal health when we move into the colder months & shorter days, we want to consume foods and fluids that promote balance within. By embracing a well-rounded and nutritious diet, we can combat oxidative stress from the cooling temperatures and support our bodies in effectively neutralizing free radicals. This is where fall superfoods step into the spotlight, offering a myriad of health benefits. The impact of seasonal changes on our mental and physical health should not be overlooked. In Ayurvedic terms, we move from the pitta-ruled months of summer into the vata-ruled season of Autumn. The Vata season arrives in late October, characterized by cold, dry, and light. For many, the reduced sunlight during these autumn months can lead to lower vitamin D levels, which can affect mood and energy. Adding foods rich in vitamins into your nutrition plan can help you maintain adequate nutrient levels.
From boosting your immune system to weight management, the right nutrition program can have a significant impact on our overall wellness during this time. It’s easy to fall victim to the cold weather gloom of approaching the winter months, however, a healthy diet, enough sleep, and regular physical activity will keep you mentally and physically healthy through the seasons. We’ve developed some key considerations for your fall meal plan.
Look to the Fall Produce for Guidance
As the autumn season sweeps in, nature offers us a bountiful selection of seasonal produce that can truly elevate our nutrition. Fall superfoods are not only delicious but also provide a wide array of health benefits, making them an excellent addition to our diets.
- Sweet Potatoes: Rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse. Beta carotene converts to vitamin A in the body, supporting healthy vision and immune function. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, protecting against cellular damage and boosting immune health. Incorporate sweet potatoes into your meals by roasting them as a side dish, adding them to stews, or baking them into fries for a healthy and satisfying treat.
- Dried Cranberries: Bursting with antioxidants and vitamins, dried cranberries provide a tart and sweet addition to fall dishes. These little gems support urinary tract health, provide an excellent source of vitamin C, and contribute to a well-rounded nutrient supply. Sprinkle dried cranberries onto salads, and add them to whole-grain breakfast bowls or trail mix for a burst of flavor and nutritional goodness.
- Pumpkin: Fall wouldn’t be complete without the iconic pumpkin. Beyond being the star of seasonal decor and pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse. Rich in fiber, vitamin A, and potassium, pumpkin supports digestive health, promotes healthy skin, and aids in regulating blood pressure. Get creative with pumpkin by incorporating it into smoothies, adding it to baked goods, or roasting it for a delicious side dish.
- Pears: Fall brings forth an abundance of juicy and flavorful pears. Pears are packed with fiber, which aids in digestion and helps maintain a healthy weight. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, promoting immune health. Enjoy pears on their own as a snack, slice them into salads for a sweet twist, or poach them for a comforting dessert. By embracing these fall superfoods, we can not only enjoy the flavors of the season but also reap their numerous health benefits. Incorporating them into our meals adds variety and nutritional value to our diet, contributing to improved overall well-being.
The fall is known for its seasonal food like apples, cranberries, pumpkins, and root vegetables! Enjoy apples and pears raw or in pies & crisps. Correspondingly, incorporate warming spices such as ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables are all real, nutrient dense food that should appear on the table. Ultimately, alongside moist and heavy foods.
Get your nutrients through broths & soups
Broths, stews, and soups are a great way to get nutrients and warm up in the fall. Incorporate mushrooms, and greens like kale, bok choy, or cabbage, and bump up the spice level. This is the time to try that pho, ramen, curry, or miso recipe! (I’m a Bon Appétit subscriber and plan to try this simple Miso Corn Soup.)
Try warm & nourishing beverages
The cold & dry vata weather causes sluggish digestion and circulation, so avoid cool fluids and seek warm beverages with anti-inflammatory or immune-boosting properties. Find this support from ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, and elderberry, and give your tea a hint of autumn with apple, orange, or cinnamon. Chai, anyone?
Nutrition and Self-Care for Autumn
The smell of wet, decaying leaves grounds me in the calendar – a scent that excites my desire for hibernation and lets it be known that the year is ending. The shift of seasons and daylight means it’s time to reassess and strategize self-care routines. What worked for summer may no longer have a place. Take this time in the season to reevaluate your routines and invite in new ones. This can look different for everybody but it’s important to keep up with your wellness journey even through this shift in seasons.
Resting tide reflections
With stillness and quietness, you can hear the internal bubblings that will propel you into growth, transformation, and creativity. Use journaling, meditation, or conversations to reflect on the season behind you and the road ahead. On a mental level, this new resting tide asks you to take stock of where you’re at. Have your harvests left you feeling a sense of accomplishment or depleted?
Are you ready to slow down with the season? What can you do with the strength you’re gathering through this season’s rest? Yes, this is a time to reflect, but the learnings are here to guide you to the next part of the cycle.
Tend to your living space
Take the time to declutter your living space and prepare it for some nesting. Start by swapping out your seasonal clothes, organizing your spice rack, donating old goods, or putting effort into modifying your space. Arrange your home to support your relaxation & well-being, and let it be your sanctuary. This is the time to slow down, be easy with yourself, and wind down with the sun in an environment that nurtures you.
Layer up, take a walk, and breathe with nature.
The leaves are falling, the days are shorter, and death in the garden has come to remind us of the imminent cycles of nature that we are also a part of. When it comes to self-care in the fall, make time to enjoy this fleeting nature of the season by taking walks or exercising outdoors. Incorporate outdoor activities into your fall routine, and maximize the waning daylight.
The Role of Nutrition Services in Autumn Wellness
When it comes to navigating the complexities of nutrition and wellness, registered dietitians (RDs) among other wellness specialists play a vital role in providing expert guidance. Their knowledge and expertise help individuals make informed choices, tailored to their specific needs and goals. In the autumn months, RDs can offer valuable support in optimizing nutrition and overall mental wellness. Let’s explore their role in more detail.
Registered dietitians are trained professionals who have earned a baccalaureate degree in nutrition, completed an accredited internship, passed a national exam, and maintain ongoing professional development. Consulting an RD provides individuals with personalized advice and support based on their unique nutritional needs, lifestyle, and health goals. RDs are equipped to address various concerns, from chronic diseases to weight management, offering evidence-based guidance.
RDs can create customized nutrition plans tailored to individuals’ specific goals and requirements. Whether someone is seeking nutrition education, meal planning assistance, or guidance on managing specific conditions like diabetes or digestive disorders, RDs are equipped to provide comprehensive support. They can help clients navigate food allergies or intolerances, optimize nutrient intake, and develop healthier eating habits that promote long-term wellness. By considering an individual’s preferences, cultural background, and lifestyle factors, nutrition specialists offer practical strategies that align with their client’s unique circumstances.
At PIMSY EHR, we acknowledge the important role that nutrition plays in mental and behavioral health. We know that a well-rounded approach to health care provides the best outcomes and have created software for mental and behavioral health professionals to provide their clients with the best possible care. We serve mental health professionals and specialties such as nutrition therapy, eating disorder treatment, nutrition counseling, personalized nutrition coaches, dietitians, and more! If you’re interested in learning more about PIMSY EHR, request a demo here!