In my forty-plus years as a natural health consultant, I’ve met many women who intentionally attend to their health and well-being. A question I frequently ask them is: “Who or what influences you to take deliberate action to improve your overall wellness?” Their responses vary as much as the women themselves, but a common theme reflects their genuine motive: get back to a simple, basic, and natural lifestyle.
They have also shared some specific attributes of a wholesome woman:
Strength and endurance of physical, mental, and spiritual abilities
Aging well to maintain quality of life into longevity
Peaceful sleep for physical, mental, and emotional restoration
A sound mind for a healthy perspective and confident decision making
A spirit of gratitude for the blessing of beautiful health they already possess
Modern-day marketing bombards our senses with every depiction imaginable––and some not so imaginable––enticing us to accept current trends. The world’s view promotes everything from gaunt to gauche to almost gruesome, all in the name of wellness. To be inspired in this often uninspiring environment of fake food, unreasonable body image, and lifestyle illnesses takes courage.
In keeping with the theme of simple, basic, natural health advice, I find that living fully in each season makes life exciting and easier. God created a wide variety of environments that produce a vast array of plant foods to keep us well fed and healthy. I find the one-size-fits-all, manufactured and boxed foods to be boring! They lack the robust colors, fragrances, flavors, textures, and vital nutrients God’s garden foods supply to awaken our senses and keep us thriving. Let’s look at a brief summary of each season’s harvest to learn how we can reap optimal health and achieve those wholesome attributes.
Spring foods are cleansing, detoxifying, refreshing, and naturally sweet. They stimulate the body’s gastric fluids to help break down stored fat; their high fiber content awakens the digestive and eliminative systems and gets your body ready for a more active season. Fill your plate with plenty of berries, dark leafy greens (like spinach), and early fruits (think cherries). Spring’s natural foods provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There’s no need for a fat- flush/detox diet when you eat fresh foods in spring.
As the days get warmer, the body needs nutrition that helps it stay cool. Summer’s plant foods provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. Choosing summer’s cooling foods may help prevent heat-related illnesses. One of the heart’s many functions is to keep our internal temperature under control. The heart gets a workout in hot climates, especially when coupled with activity. Several summer foods are packed with the carotenoid lycopene, which is the powerful antioxidant giving the red color to tomatoes, watermelons, guavas, red peppers, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables. Savor a variety of summer’s colorful garden produce including cucumbers, peppers, melons, tomatoes, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, spinach, and so many more.
The garden begins to wane as the weather changes. Sun-ripened produce gives way to the cooler-temperature plants. Root vegetables (beet, carrot, potato, turnip, parsnip, rutabaga, yam, and sweet potato), thicker-rind squashes (pumpkin, acorn, butternut, delicata and spaghetti squash) and winter greens (kale, chard, mustard, collard, and beet greens) reach maturity in this season. These plant foods are denser than their summer cousins and provide a storehouse of nutrients to get your body through the fall and winter seasons. Their high nutrient, low-fat, low-calorie, and low-glycemic index properties make them wise choices for the long season ahead without the seasonal weight gain.
Winter is a dormant season in the garden. Think about what your grandmother might have stored in her root cellar. The final harvest of autumn’s garden was kept in a cool, dark, dry place to be used for winter meals. Thankfully, our modern markets offer those seasonal crops to ease and accommodate our full schedules and lack of root cellars. Dried fruits and vegetables from earlier harvests may be used to add variety to an often bland winter menu. Nuts, seeds, and dried beans provide a non-animal fat and protein source and combine well with winter vegetables. Nothing warms a wintry day like a simmering squash soup flavored with cinnamon or cumin and paired with a slice of freshly baked whole grain bread!
When we choose wisely from our Creator’s seasonal food sources and reduce the manufactured food-like substances from our pantries and plates we may enjoy good health, as prayed in Third John 1:2. Then the fad diets of the world will not entice us to spend time, money, and effort undoing the side effects of eating unnatural foods. Our heavenly Father does not intend for His daughters to be chemically or artificially maintained. The world’s view offers the allure of health and well-being, while God offers the promise of a long, full life (see Proverbs 9:11).
Let’s choose His way to wellness!