As the seasons change, so should our eating habits. Not only do our bodies naturally crave different foods in the colder months versus the warmer ones, we also see a change in the variety of produce available each season. The summer offers lighter foods like berries, butter lettuce and tomatoes while the winter harvest includes hearty greens, root vegetables and stone fruit great for stews and warm fruit crisps. It only makes sense to follow the patterns of the harvest to not only eat foods that satisfy our cravings, but also set a foundation of whole foods in our diets.
A whole food is any food in it’s most natural state. So think about it like this: anything that is not purchased in a package or box is a whole food, pretty simple right? Considering there were no supermarkets back in the 1600s it’s a given that a diet rich in whole foods was the normal. Eating patterns like those of the Early Settlers and Native Americans offers a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and fiber as well as a quality source of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
Since then, the variety of snacks, prepared meals, desserts and “nutrition” bars has exploded and the idea of eating the most convenient foods has trumped the ideals of eating the foods that offer the most nutrition for many people. So where does this land us? Unfortunately with this style of eating, chronic illness and inflammation are more common than ever and the health risks associated with poor diet and lifestyle are affecting a majority of the population.
With this being said, there is a lot to be learned from the diet followed by the people who enjoyed the first Thanksgiving. They ate a diet of whole foods rich in the essential nutrients to maintain the demand of the active lifestyle of the time. The foods they included did not contain added sugars or unhealthy fats to add flavor and maintain shelf life, instead they ate foods in their most natural state, which offered them the highest quality nutrition.
As we gear up for our own holiday celebrations our menus should be created with the intentions of including a variety of whole food and a limited amount of processed foods like refined grains, white sugar and processed vegetable oils. Create a menu that includes whole foods prepared in a way that maintains the natural flavors and integrity of the food. Add flavor with natural herbs and spices versus an excess amount of sodium and sugar. And finally, include a variety of foods to add color and nutrients to your holiday meal to keep you healthy through the winter months to come.