Spring Clean- eating
13 Food and nutrition tips for Spring
Spring can take a few weeks to establish itself and at times it may feel like we are still in the depths of winter, especially in Scotland. When it comes to changing our foods from warming foods to cooler foods, we should consider taking it slow, easing ourselves into any new eating regimes and listening to our bodies.
The spring season is a great time for cleaning up our diet and getting fresh food and energy into our bodies for the new year.
Here are some food and nutrition tips to help keep you happy and healthy in the spring season:
1. Lighten up
Spring is a good time to start eating less, giving the body the opportunity to cleanse itself of the fats and heavy foods of the winter.
When the weather starts to warm up a bit and there is a glimpse of warm sunshine then our bodies can start to let go of some its heavy winter energy reserves. This is the time to consider changing our foods to more plants based and raw food choices.
Like the bright and delicate green shoots that are emerging in nature, our bodies benefit from a diet that is light and fresh in spring, containing foods which emphasize the ascending and expansive yang qualities of spring – young plants, fresh greens, sprouts and immature cereal grasses.
2. Look after your liver
The liver is a key organ linked with the season of spring.
Too much pressure on the liver from over-eating, poor quality foods, environmental toxins, emotional stress or overwork can cause liver overload. This may lead to a decreased ability to rid the body of toxins and hormones and also to manufacture bile.
The liver is at its peak in spring so this is the optimal time to clean and support it.
3. Sober up and cut the caffeine
Alcohol is known to be a powerful toxin that will damage the liver so is best avoided or
significantly reduced in spring.
Likewise, tea, coffee or any fizzy drinks containing high quantities of caffeine or chemicals are best
cut back on and avoided where possible.
Swapping to caffeine and alcohol free alternatives will help reduce the strain on the liver.
Drinking plenty of fresh filtered water and warm herb teas such as nettle, fresh ginger, lemon and fennel will also help support the liver in its spring cleaning duties.
4. Cut down on fats
Cutting down on fats in our diet in spring is a great way to help lighten our diet and reduce strain on
Try to avoid all damaged fats, such as hydrogenated fats which are found in many processed foods.
Not using heavy fats in cooking gives natural foods a more aerated and ‘rising’ quality, that
supports nature’s upward and expansive activity. Light steaming or minimal simmering is preferable
as this will help maintain digestive balance.
If using cold pressed oils, do not use them for cooking at high temperatures as this effects their
5. Go Green
Green is the colour of spring and green, chlorophyll-rich foods such as wheat grass, barley grass, micro algae, (spirulina and wild blue green algae) and Chlorella are perfect for this season (process at low temperatures to maintain benefits).
Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Pok Choy, kale, radishes, and turnips contain glucosinolates which help the liver produce enzymes for detoxification.
Any small fresh greens, such as spinach, rocket, asparagus, watercress, parsley, alfalfa, seaweed, collard greens and salad leaves, are also great for spring.
Bitter vegetables such as bitter chard, dandelion greens, mustard greens and chicory promote the
production and flow of bile and are also great things to eat in spring.
6. Don’t get too salty
Salty foods such as soy sauce, miso and sodium rich meats all have a strong component of sinking energy and are best limited during spring. Too many heavy foods clog the liver and can results in ‘spring fevers’.
7. Go suck a lemon
The flavour of spring is sour. It is most active in the liver, where it counteracts the effects of rich greasy food, functioning as a solvent and breaking down fats and protein. Sourness also aids the digestion of minerals and can help strengthen weakened lungs.
Great sour flavoured foods to introduce into your diet include: lemon, limes, apple cidar vinegar, sauerkraut, grapefruits and apples.
Apples contain pectin which helps to bind and excrete heavy metals out of the intestines. This directly helps to reduce the load of filtration on the liver.
Grapefruits are rich in antioxidants and help in the natural detoxification of liver
8. Sweet and pungent
Sweet and pungent flavours are also supportive in spring. For this effect you could use a small amount of raw honey or brown rice malt syrup with some pungent cooking herbs like mint as a tea, which will create a personal spring within. Raw honey, used sparingly, is especially helpful as it has a detoxifying nature.
Other cooking herbs that are desirable at this time are basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill and bayleaf.
Certain intensely pungent flavours can also be used in spring and raw onion and garlic can help to rid the body of any parasites at this time. Garlic contains antioxidants allicin and the mineral selenium and assists the removal of heavy metals from the liver.
9. Wholesome wholegrains and complex carbohydrates
Grains, starchy vegetables, legumes (beans) and Pulses, and other complex carbohydrates are ideal foods for long term liver harmony.
Most of the complex carbohydrates such as grains, legumes, and seeds have a primarily, sweet flavour which increases when sprouted.
Brown rice and whole grains, broccoli and spinach contain B-complex vitamins which improve liver function and promote liver decongestion. Vitamin B12, often found in whole grains, helps to metabolize fats and improves liver health.
10. Fresh beets
Young beets, carrots and other starchy vegetables are good at this time of year.
Beetroot, carrots, red onions and aubergine (eggplant) also contain flavonoids and beta-caroten
which are potent antioxidants and are particularly beneficial to the body in spring.
11. Get Raw
Increasing the amount of raw and sprouted foods is great for spring, thought to bring about renewal by reminding the body of the earlier, more youthful stages of human development.
In Ayurveda, these foods are termed vatic, which means “wind-like”! According to Ayurvedic thought, they encourage quickness, rapid movement and outward activity in general. They are also cleansing and cooling.
Raw food consumption should increase slowly, especially for those with weakened digestion or any bowel inflammation. It should also be dependent on the weather.
12. Try a plant based diet
Introducing a plant based diet as the weather improves is a really beneficial thing to do in spring, even for just a couple of weeks.
Try to remove saturated fats, animal protein, eggs and dairy, especially animal fats like sausage, bacon, salami, hot dogs, dairy products which are classed by the World Health Organisation as Stage 1 carcinogens and are in the same category as Uranium and Tobacco.
If you remove dense foods like animal proteins and fats remove them one at a time as you gradually introduce more fresh and raw foods into your diet. If you get to the point where it is all plant based foods then you could keep this going for a few weeks.
13. Cut the chemicals and cleanse
Try to eat food as near to its natural state as possible, avoiding artificial flavourings and preservatives.
If you are able to, avoid all processed food, microwaved or reheated food, plastic wrapped products and eat organically produced foods as much as possible to avoid toxic chemical residues.
Spring is the time to look into detoxification and cleansing of the body. To do this, gently take yourself into a healthy and safe detoxification process to help the liver do its work and avoid a severe healing crisis. By doing this gradually, taking our bodies through a natural, slower detoxification, we can achieve a much gentler process for the body.
If you would like to do a cleansing diet, make sure that you are strong and feeling healthy and do not have any detoxification symptoms from the changes you have already made.
Always ask the advise of a nutritional therapist before going ahead with this.