By Diana Arundell – University Qualified Naturopath & Nutritionist
As flora and fauna around us naturally cycle through the seasons, so too do we as humans but perhaps not quite as naturally. We tend to get stuck in routines of convenience such as eating the same things all year round, doing the same exercise routine and it may only be the kind of clothing we wear that can really distinguish which season we are existing in.
When we’re very busy or heavily focused in certain areas of our lives, we tend to move at such a pace that we don’t have awareness around the subtle changes in our environment and the subtle needs of the body that may change along with the seasons.
Just as it can feel fabulous after spring cleaning our house, so too it can feel rejuvenating to spring clean ourselves and head into the warmer months with a fresher outlook. Spring is great time to check in with ourselves and see where we may have fallen into a rut physically, mentally and emotionally.
Spring cleaning the physical body can be as easy as reducing alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar and increasing the intake of seasonal vegetables, pure water and simply moving the body more. Taking a 7 – 14 day reset can break unhealthy habits and pave the way for more nourishing diet and lifestyle habits. Finding a friend to ‘spring clean’ with can be a fun and accountable way to reset together. Committing to walking together 3 mornings for 2 weeks, trying a new fitness class together (yoga, barre, tai chi, dancing) or each choosing a new activity to experience may help motivate movement.
Nutritionally we can get into boring routines with what we eat so learning what vegetables and fruit are in season and rotating the diet accordingly, is a great way to ensure the body is exposed to different foods, providing a variety of vitamins and minerals. Changing what is eaten for breakfast as the seasons change is a great start. For example, warmer breakfast options are better suited to the body in winter such as warmed oats with stewed fruit and seeds whereas the warmer summer months may be a time to switch to a muesli/fruit and yoghurt or smoothie option. Be aware too if lunch and dinner always look the same for you and your family.
Vegetables more naturally in abundance in spring (Sept – Nov) include: spinach and lettuce, tomato, zucchini, asparagus, Asian greens, celery, corn, eggplant, potato and pumpkin, beetroot and the extra important brassica family such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels. The brassica family of vegetables contain compounds have been linked to anti–cancer activity, more specifically to breast and colorectal tumours.
Fruit that is naturally more available in spring includes: strawberries, blueberries, cherries, mandarin, oranges, mango, grapefruit, apple and watermelon. Avocado is also more available.
A good daily goal is to aim for 5 small handfuls of vegetables each day. 2 ½ handfuls each at lunch and dinner or picking up a carrot, handful of baby tomatoes or a couple of pickles as a snack can increase vegetable intake in between meals. 2 pieces of fruit per day will help to satisfy sweet cravings as well as add beneficial vitamin and protective antioxidant value to the body.
Spring is a fabulous time to not only check in with ourselves physically but also mentally and emotionally too. Having awareness around our thoughts and emotions means our life is less likely to just pass by and awareness can lead to consciously creating more life experiences that we want. The man–made resources and things around us haven’t just appeared or been shipped in from another planet but rather everything began as someone’s thought. We are fantastic creators if we learn to master our thoughts rather than our thoughts randomly appearing in our mind and unconsciously running the show. Learning to master your thoughts rather than the other way around can be a game changer for mental health and happiness. There is an abundance of free resources available via the internet and library to explore this phenomenon and the world that exists behind our eyes.
A true naturopathic approach will always consider health from physical, mental and emotional aspects and look at the interaction of all these components of health. Each is as important as the other so an internal spring clean also requires a check in to how the emotions are showing up in the body. Many health issues in the body have been linked to chronic stress – both physical and emotional. Recognising patterns of behaviour and being honest enough with ourselves to acknowledge unhealthy reactive emotional patterns can improve relationships with the self and others. Taking responsibility for our own emotions and realising that it’s impossible for another to physically ‘put’ an emotion inside of us is an interesting concept. Working with a practitioner to help have a healthier response rather than react to the outer world from old belief structures can make the world a much sweeter place to exist.
As the weather warms up and nature awakens around us with fresh inspiration, take the time to tune into how you want to be feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. Take even just one small step in a direction that feels closer to a healthier and happier path because as the saying goes, this is not a dress rehearsal, this is the main event. Spring is all about new beginnings and this includes your health and happiness at any age.
Diana Arundell is a university–qualified naturopath and consults from her Avoca Naturopath clinic. She has a special interest in fertility and pregnancy health, digestive health, immune function and family wellness programs. She was a nutrition lecturer at Macquarie University for 10 years, and is an accredited Journey Practitioner. For further information or to make an appointment please contact Diana Arundell at Avoca Naturopath on 0410 465 900.