Even though we live in the semi-tropics here in Brisbane, the winters still get cold!
We acclimatise quickly and the difference in temperature from summer to winter is noticeable, regardless of the fact that there is no snow or frost.
While turning on the heater and wearing more layers are environmental adjustments to combat the cold, we can also use herbs and foods to increase our internal temperatures.
A cup of hot tea will do nicely – especially if we add herbs or spices which are heating from an energetic perspective. Foods and drinks can cool the body (think lemonade) or can bring warmth (chillies, anyone). We can use this to warm up and enliven our metabolism and stave off the chills.
Teas might include cinnamon and liqourice (this will also bring some moisture), ginger and honey (hot and soothing combination) or cacao and chilli (unctuous and hot). Other notable examples include chilli, basil, fennel, celery seed, cumin and cloves – these will all help to liquify or reduce excess mucus as well. Garlic is hot and destroys bacteria, supporting the immune system in turn.
Foods to bring warmth include beef and chicken, chocolate, carob, buckwheat, mustard greens, broccoli and curries.
Oils are deeply nourishing and important for people who suffer from dry mucus membranes, dry skin and who get anxious on windy days. In our part of the world, we have the ‘Westerlies’ in August which stir up the autumn leaves but also school kids’ tempers and impatient motorists. Hemp oil, coconut oil or ghee are calming, moistening and although cooling on their own, can be combined with any of the above foods if ingested.
In winter, it is also logical to eat cooked foods. We require digestive fire to break down food, and more raw foods. If our bodies are working to keep the whole body warm, we don’t want to burden it further with cold foods such as green smoothies or frozen foods. Save those for summer.
Fermented foods are also good in winter, as they can bring warmth and predigested nourishment. A caution would be for high histamine people, as this can really set off a flare. Co-incidentally, these people tend to feel the cold less.
As indoor heating warms us, it can also dry the skin, eyes and throat. Diffusing calming and anti-microbial oils like lavender, thyme and eucalyptus help to cleanse the air and the vapour brings some much needed humidity.
In winter the sunlight is weaker and the days are shorter, so vitamin D can become deficient very easily. Foods like oily fish are great choices, or mushrooms, oranges and milk (almond or cow’s). In some cases, supplementation may be prudent. So see which of the above options might inspire you to concoct a warm drink, snuggle up with a good book or a loved one and enjoy the inclination to look inward and shelter. It will be summer again before long 😊