(EN)Seasonal diet: fad, fashion or does it have a scientific basis?

Updated: Mar 8

When you read about seasonal nutrition tips, you may be wondering why it is so important for us to address this? Where do these recommendations come from and how can they be applied in everyday life?

Perhaps it’s no secret that “moving together” with nature and the seasons helps keep our body functioning optimally. Who wouldn’t feel like cooling foods and drinks are better in summer and the warming ones in winter? Individually, however, there may be differences in this as well, so when general advice doesn’t really suit us, we need to choose - even with the help of an expert - what our body needs. It’s like dressing up: we wear warmer clothes in winter, lighter ones in summer, but because we have different sensitivities and therefore react differently to cold and heat, so not everyone will be good at the same dress. When we “dress” from the inside, this principle also applies. Fortunately, consuming seasonal vegetables and fruits is part of most cultures, as it’s usually a matter of course to eat what’s just growing in the garden, not to mention that these products will be readily available to us in price and quality in stores as well. However, it is also worth consciously paying attention to the consumption of seasonal plants, and it is also very important to have some information about lifestyle and nutrition in our memory in order to be able to balance our body.

One of the ancient knowledge, Chinese medicine (also known by many as traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM), categorizes foods into cold, neutral, and warm categories, and recommends consuming them according to the seasons and tailored to individual needs. I also draw from this thousands of years of knowledge in my work, as it is one of the most detailed documented method of putting dietary advice at the service of healing. But we don’t have to dig ourselves too deep into this science to understand and use its basics. Coexistence with nature has been the case for all peoples over time, but observations have not been recorded everywhere, they have rather spread through oral tradition. Nevertheless, as far as possible, I also take into account the customs of the Hungarian and other European peoples in the course of nutrition counseling. When looking at the type of food we need according to the ancient, Eastern approach, there are some general considerations to consider:

1. Food has a health-preserving and healing effect , it can harmonize the body. Just think of how well it feels to eat a warm bone soup which helps our immune system when we are cold. In summer, however, the taste of fresh fruit and salads attract us. 2. Food can have a warming, neutral or cooling effect. However, not only does ice cream have a cold effect on our bodies, and hot peppers are not the only representative of warming meals. It is also worth exploring these categories in more detail so that we can easily apply them to our diet according to the season and our individual build. 3. Flavors have a therapeutic effect they may also be related to the functioning of an organ. When we want salt, the area of ​​the kidney actually signals. Getting to know the natural flavors of food and observing our reactions to them is of great importance. The more we prefer natural flavors — we don’t eat refined sugar, but sweet does, of course — the better we will know what and why our bodies signal. It is worth noting that the fruits and vegetables of the given season, mostly based on their taste, fit well into our diet. So we don’t have to think about what we can eat - nature is here to help us too. 4. The seasons, in a broader sense, also symbolize individual human organs, so their operation can be linked to a specific period of the year. Accordingly, as the weather changes, a different organ zone is what deserves special attention. In cold weather, for example, the kidneys are more sensitive, which is why colds are a more common complaint. But this doesn't have to be the case! If we lead a proper lifestyle and put our diet well together, as well as consciously paying attention to our bodies, we can keep these problems under control and even prevent them. 5. Our mood changes with the seasons.Who hasn’t already experienced the mood-boosting effects of sunshine, and who wouldn’t know the concept of winter depression? At the same time, there is an energetic connection between the functioning of our organs and our emotional state. When we are sad, our lungs weaken, when we are afraid our kidneys. (Fear as a second “brain” is often signaled by the intestinal tract .) If we already know in which season, which energy of our organs can weaken, then it is worth consciously paying attention to it at the level of our soul as well. Let's not burden our bodies or souls unnecessarily! Let us strive to ensure that our thoughts and thus our energies serve our health. 6. Breathing and exercise are important parts of maintaining good health and are inseparable from diet. As the seasons change, we also pay attention to when we are more outdoors and what kind of sports we do in the meantime. Whether it is walking or rather running in the fresh air is also closely related to the weather, ie the change of seasons. 7. Seasonality also affects the nature and method of baking and cooking. In the summer, we usually prefer a fresh salad that doesn’t have any cooked stuff in it. This refreshing dish can also be a crispy, mixed vegetable salad or an appetizing fruit salad. In winter, warm soup or a tasty vegetable is better. These are the basics, but there are many more and more specific aspects that can help you adapt the way you prepare your meals to each season. I also like to take seasonal changes into account when designing individual diets because it can work well for most people. It is important to note, however, that when there is a specific health problem, in many respects the appropriate diet should be followed primarily (e.g., meat and lots of protein should be avoided in the case of gout), so the above dietary advice can only be considered general. I admit that when we receive the signals of our body openly and lovingly, we can learn a lot from it. One of the foundations of my method is to connect the various ancient knowledge systems with the knowledge of Western medicine, with the results of the latest research. Next, I put together what is important to do with diet and lifestyle, tailored to the individual. After all, the emphasis is on treating our own lives, our health, and the life cycle in harmony with each other, because then many worries and difficulties can be settled in time and balanced. Even ourselves. You can read the practical tips for each season here, follow them and feel free to ask our expert. Feel free to email me to hello@begoniawellness.club for a first session ( free, '30 minutes) and request a personalised plan.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF THE ARTICLE I am Bernadett Köteles-Degrendele, the developer of the Begonia Wellness Method and a nutrition therapist known as Bernadett Begonia, a wellness coach. In my work, I represent naturalness and see food as one of the foundations of maintaining health and healing. For the past 15 years, I have attended various trainings on wellness, nutrition and coaching. In my work, I also build on Eastern and Western methods, including traditional Chinese medicine and the detection of food intolerances and allergies. Bernadett can be contacted at hello@begoniawellness.club

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