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A Guide to warming foods for winter by Fran Allen

It’s the time of year where everything feels cold, grey and sluggish. This is typically the cold and flu season when most folks are moving and getting out less. This paired with a diet of certain foods can lead to chronically cold hands and feet but also slower digestion, bloating, gas and fatigue.

Often by instinct, we will eat warmer foods in the wintertime and cooler in the summertime, which is our body’s way of helping us find a balance. Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the hot or cold properties of food and teaches us that warming foods are yang, which means they tend to be stimulating and drying and help to raise the energy of the body by improving circulation while bringing heat to the organs, blood, and cells. If we aren’t getting enough warming food or our yang is deficient it may be signaled in these symptoms:

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating
  • Discomfort after eating or drinking cold foods
  • Sore joints
  • Fluid retention
  • Lack of energy

If you have any of the following symptoms listed above, I suggest adding more of the warming foods into your diet. Here are some of my favourite warming foods:

Warm water and Teas: Swapping your ice water in the winter for warm tea or room temperature water can do a lot to help improve your body’s heat and circulation. Try adding warming herbs like ginger, cinnamon or turmeric to your teas or water for an extra boost of warmth.

Spices: Cooking with spices like chillies, cayenne, ginger, turmeric, garlic and cinnamon help to improve digestion and stimulate our metabolism. This helps keep us feeling warm and cozy. Try these recipes for inspiration:

Cooked Foods: Cooked food is more warming for the body than raw food. Raw food is cooling. As is any food eaten cold, straight from the refrigerator. Instead, allow it to come to room temperature or warm on the stove.

Root Veggies: Root vegetables are those that grow under the soil, such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, and sweet potatoes. These veggies help keep us warm because we digest them more slowly than above-ground growing vegetables, and so they generate more heat.

Soups, Stews and Slow Cooked meals: We probably already know that one of the quickest ways to warm yourself from the inside out is with a bowl of slow-cooked soup or stew.

These traditional foods have been served for years and tend to be quite common in cold weather climates. Dishes like Congee, Borscht, Irish Stew and Pho all have warming properties and make perfect winter meals.

Other things to consider when feeling cold:

Indoor footwear: wearing cozy socks or slippers at home makes a big difference in how our bodies store heat. Try to keep something cozy like cotton or wool on your feet to keep from getting a chill.

Movement: moving our bodies, even just for 15 minutes per day makes a huge difference in our circulation and metabolism. Take a walk around the block or a few jumping jacks by your desk can get your heart rate up!

Baths: Taking warm water Epsom salt baths help to relax our nervous system and promote healthy digestion. I love adding our Radiant Bath + Body Oil and a pinch of ginger powder into the bath to stimulate blood flow and keep you feeling toasty warm.

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