This time of year we tend to slip into well-worn habits, cycles, and traditions. While this whole year has been the least traditional year I’ve personally every seen, some habits don’t scare so easily. With the long days and heat of the summer, I found myself craving quick, cool foods that would help me keep going for as long as I needed. This often meant lighter meals and very little sugar. I was so proud of myself, thinking I finally kicked that ugly sugar habit to the curb where it belonged. And then it got cold… and dark… and the field slowed down. And I actually found that my body slowed down with it. Now that we’re on the doorstep to the holiday season, I find myself craving warm, dense meals, punctuated with sugary little treats at the end to keep me cozy and motivated. Many of us can relate, I’m sure. Cookies are popping up everywhere, pies are being gifted, and drinks are becoming a little more caloricly dense than they may have been in the summer. It’s easy to fall into an indulgent/shame cycle this time of year. A cycle where we may feel compelled (either by our families, our traditions, or ourselves) to indulge in seasonal treats and then face the emotional whiplash of shame – “I really shouldn’t be eating this.” “I always gain so much weight this time of year.”
It’s important to give yourself a break. Your body, like most animal bodies, needs this time of year to rest and recharge. Adding a little more winter padding may seem awful in the moment, but it’s completely natural. And after the year we’ve all had, we can stand to be a little kinder to ourselves. Food is meant to be shared and enjoyed, not villified and feared. Breaking bread with loved ones is a beautiful gesture that brings and keeps us together, even when we can’t be physically with each other this holiday season.
However, all of this is said with one caveat: sourcing matters. I try to make a point in every blog I write, or nutritional class I’ve taught in the past, to emphasize one takeaway that I think matters most – sourcing. Fresh food made with organic, local ingredients is a beautiful thing from which our bodies can gain nourishment. However, the same cannot be said for highly processed, chemical-filled foods. Now I’m not here to judge – I obviously enjoy a Little Debbie treat from time to time – but I do think that if you emphasize fresh, homemade treats this winter, you and your body will definitely feel the difference and instead of craving treat after treat, you’ll likely feel satiated more easily and more often. And if you’re questioning your ability to eat the “right kind of junk food,” remember to just eat seasonally. Swing by our pop-up markets and stock up on beets and carrots. You could make a delicious carrot cake or delightfully pink beet hummus for your much-needed snack breaks. Eating in season helps nourish your body in the exact ways it needs at any time of year.
Winter is the time to relax, recharge, and reenergize, and there shouldn’t be any shame or guilt attached to it. Take the time you need to refocus on your priorities. And if that means you need to have a frozen pizza and skip that Zoom yoga class to do it – do it! Just don’t make a habit of it to the point where you’re physically feeling bad (and maybe add some farm fresh veggies on top to make it a farm pizza!). Just remember this holiday season that your body does an amazing job every day and it deserves to be praised and indulged along the way. Winter cravings are natural and should be respected and supported. Spring will be here before you know it and the tempo of life will be restored to a faster pace. Enjoy this down time.