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Seasonal Sustenance with Naturopath Olivia Towning

Seasonal Sustenance with Naturopath Olivia Towning

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is a time for deep restoration. It’s a great time to slow down, go inward and reassess your approach to self-care and nourishment. With a new season comes the opportunity to make seasonal changes and restore your wellbeing. A gentle daily rhythm is wonderful way to stay grounded and reap the cumulative benefits of wellness practices.


Nourishing yourself with intention is a form of self-care. Food as medicine is not a new concept, our ancestors understood the healing power of food but in our modern industrialised world we are bombarded with fast foods, fractionated foods, convenience foods, packaged foods and denatured foods– and these foods do not support health and wellbeing.


Eat foods your great grandmother would recognise. These foods are whole and unprocessed in nature. Our bodies adore simplicity. Natural, single ingredient foods are more easily digested, assimilated and eliminated. With less energy spent on digesting packaged foods with mysterious ingredients, our bodies have more time to put towards healing and repair, regeneration and rejuvenation.


Eat nutrient dense foods. All traditional diets were comprised of foods that are brimming with nutrients. Nutrient density refers to foods that are highest in vitamins and minerals, and bursting with fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K. Foods like egg yolks, bone broth, fish eggs, butter, cream, raw cheese, liver, poultry, fish and seafood. Such foods were prized by traditional cultures all over the world. Eat these foods in abundance, and with reverence. Sourcing is paramount here, try to purchase the best quality that budget allows. Organic or chemical free, and grass-fed and pasture raised, where possible.


Steer clear of cold foods. Foods eaten in winter should always be warm in nature. Cooking warms the energetics of food, so focusing on soups, stews or casseroles are a wonderful place to begin.  Think warming spices like cardamom and cinnamon, fresh ginger root tea, or vegetables such as onions, leeks or garlic. Fruit can also be strewed or poached.  


Embrace seasonal carbohydrates. Our metabolism is reliant on glucose from carbohydrates to function optimally. Afterall, glucose is our cells preferred fuel source and is therefore needed to create energy and feel wondrous. Fruits, root vegetables, grains and sugars such as maple syrup and raw honey are all wonderful sources. To support blood glucose balance, we can be mindful to prepare and balance carbohydrates with foods which contain protein.


Flood the body with healing leaves and flowers. Herbal teas are a wonderful way to connect with the healing power of plants. Sit down with your favourite steeped botanicals and unwind this weekend. Simple remedies such as dandelion root, chicory, burdock, and nettle nourish the liver and offer gentle detoxification properties.


Embrace the seasonality of foods. Sourcing fruits and vegetables from a local farmers market is a wonderful way to eat seasonally and support farmers directly. As the seasons shift, so does what mother nature has to offer and a farmers market sojourn is a perfect way to remain in harmony with the environment. Foods to consume during winter are the foods that naturally grow during this season. Think root vegetables, winter greens, apples, pears, quince and citrus fruits.


Chew your food. The physical process of intentionally chewing your food supports the breakdown of food into smaller fragments, allowing for optimal nutrient assimilation and absorption. As you chew your food, more digestive enzymes are produced. This helps to support digestion, and reduce the occurrence of bloating or other digestive complaints. Let this be an opportunity to take a pause, and reflect on not just what you are eating, but how you are eating. Practice the art of presence while consuming your nourishing meals. 


Feed your microbiome. The good bugs in our gut adore fermented foods. These foods that are alive and full of whole-food probiotics, and are universal in all traditional diets. Optimal digestion relies on a balanced microbiome. Nurture a healthy gut by feeding the beneficial bacteria a wide array of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, beet kvass, kimchi, kombucha, yoghurt and pickled vegetables.


Reconnect with the ancient practice of making bone broth. Bone broth is a culinary staple in a real food kitchen and has sadly been lost in our convenience culture. Our great grandmothers knew the value of broth. Touted as a cure-all in traditional households, stocks or broth made from bones of beef, fish or chicken is incredibly nutrient dense and contains the minerals of bone, cartilage and marrow. This elixir is rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, and will elevate your wellbeing.



By Olivia Towning
- Naturopath, cook, postpartum mother care, ancestral food

Photo by Matthieu Salvaing for Flamingo Estate


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