Food

Winter Grocery List and Food Guide with PDF


Most vegetables and fruits are now available throughout the year . Hence it is not so easy to know what grows and what to eat during winter. Winter Grocery list and seasonal eating guide and the downloadable PDF help you end that confusion , even if you live in India or outside.

Why should you eat according to season ?

The gut bacteria in our body varies as per the season. It will not be the same in the summer and the winter.

A deer that eats green leaves during spring summer will eat the barks of trees during winter. If it tries eating the bark during summer, it will end up with digestive issues.

Similarly, if we eat spring or summer foods during winter, we will also end up having digestive issues, blood sugar imbalances, hormonal problems, lowered immunity and other health issues. Winter by itself comes with its own woes . These woes can be reduced to a large extend by eating according to the season.

Here is a comprehensive list of vegetables, fruits, nuts +seeds, spices, grains and pulses to be included in winter.

Tastes to favour – Sweet, salt, Sour, dense( starchy), oily, moist and hot.

Things to avoid – Raw veggies, salads, smoothies, chips, caffeine, energy drinks, refined ultra processed food, breakfast cereals and cold food like ice cream, slushies, soda etc .

 M – If winter is mild for you or if you live in a tropical area, have these vegetables/fruits . If you have a harsh winter, save those for Spring.
* denotes the foods it is a winter superfood.

Fruits

Fruits should never be combined with the main meal, or be ground into juice or smoothies. Have fruit by itself as a snack.  
 

  • Banana
  • Tangerine *
  • Persimmon
  • Dates *
  • Figs
  • Tomato ( yes, tomato is a fruit)
  • Oranges *
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Pomegranate *
  • Berries (M)

    Avoid grapes, mango, water melon, cantaloupe, cherries, plums and peaches during winter.  
     

Cooking oils

  • Sesame oil *
  • Ghee *
  • Avocado oil *
  • Mustard oil *

    Coconut oil is suitable for mild winter and if you traditionally cook with it .
    Always avoid refined oils like sunflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil/vegetable oil and rice bran oil .

Vegetables

Avoid bitter gourd, raw greens,  salads and cucumbers.
Go for the vegetables that grow near you and not around the globe. Visit a farmer’s market or a farm near you.

Tubers are meant for winter

Cook these vegetables into a stir fry or any local recipe of your region.

  • Avocado
  • Pumpkin *
  • Squash
  • Ash gourd/Winter melon *
  • Peas
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Okra/Ladies finger
  • Yucca/Tapioca
  • Potato ( Go for Organic variety)
  • Taro root/Chembu/Arbi *
  • Chinese potato/Koorka *
  • Arrow root/ Koova *
  • Purple yam/Kaavithu *
  • Elephant yam/Chena  *
  • Plantain
  • Turnip
  • Radish *
  • Sweet potato
  • Corn ( Over 93% of Corn in the US is Genetically modified. choose Organic , non gmo variety)
  • Mustard Greens *
  • Flat beans/ Avarakka
  • Methi/Fenugreek leaves
  • Spinach ( M)
  • Dill leaves ( M)
  • Cabbage ( M)
  • Cauliflower (M)
  • Bell Peppers (M)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger *

Grains

  • Rice
  • Wheat *
  • Amaranth *
  • Corn ( Choose only  organic non gmo variety)
  • Finger millet/Ragi ( cooked with ghee or milk )
  • Little millet / Samai/ Chama
  • Buckwheat *
  • Pearl millet/Bajra /Kambu *

    Avoid Jowar/Sorghum and Thinai/Foxtail millet during winter.


Pulses/Legumes

                Most pulses and legumes are good or winter as long as they are soaked and cooked well. Soak the pulse for 6-8 hours in water and discard the water. Cook it generously with spices and pair with rice/wheat/any grain listed above.

 If your tummy finds it difficult to tolerate pulses, go for the split and husked variety. ( for eg : yellow moong dal instead of green moong ).

Nuts + seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich , dense and perfect for winter.
  • Almonds
  • Flax seeds *
  • Brazil nuts
  • Sesame seeds *
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cashew (Fall/early winter)
  • Garden cress seeds/Aserio/Aliv
  • Coconut
  • Pistachio
  • Walnuts
  • Pecan

Spices

Be generous with spices in your winter diet. It is important to temper spices over food . They regulate your digestive fire and keep your immunity higher. Small amounts of home-made pickles or preserves that does not contain Class ii preservatives or additives are good to be a part of winter diet.

Jaggery and honey are warming and good for winter. Honey should never be mixed with any food that is above 40C or 104F.

  • Pepper *
  • Ginger *
  • Nutmeg
  • Saffron
  • Cinnamon *
  • Cardamom
  • Fennel
  • Dill *
  • Cumin
  • Turmeric *
  • Mustard
  • Coriander
  • Clove

Raw/ Unpasteurized, Grass-fed Dairy

  • Butter
  • Ghee *
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Buttermilk *
  • Cottage cheese/ Paneer
  • Cheese
  • Cream

Meat

Most meats are good for winter as long as they are under 20% of your weekly diet.

Winter is a good time to increase physical activity and flexibility. This will help in reducing depression, joint pains and SAD(seasonal affective disorder) that usually comes with winter and its gloomy days.

When days are dark outside, its better to look inwards and find the light inside.

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Child Nutrition

How to improve your child’s immunity?

The first thing that comes to our mind when we talk about immunity is flu shots. However, the best way to build immunity is natural immunizations with the help of microorganisms / microbes . We have all heard of one such kind of microbe.  Probiotics which are the beneficial organisms that we get from food. They help us improve our digestive and gut health.

This microbiome reside in all parts of our body and are affected by our lifestyle, environment, food, sleep and medications. Microbes and their number, the species and balance of good and bad ones decide our immunity and health. For the microbiome to thrive, we need to maintain a ratio of good and bad bacteria in our body at 85:15.

How do we improve our child’s microbiome and thus their immunity, health and growth?

Via Birth

The vaginal secretions inoculate the baby with microbiome while they pass through the birth canal. This is also why babies born via vaginal delivery have better immunity than those via C section. Experts recommend smearing  vaginal secretions from the mother on the baby if it is a C – section. Mother’s microbiome also passes to the baby via breast milk which is crucial for the baby’s immunity, growth and health.

Via Food

Eating the Right Food

Eat according to season and consume different kinds of organic and local vegetables, fruits, tubers, pulses and grains. This will help repopulate all the different species of beneficial bacteria. When local, organic and seasonal whole foods are included in diet, the need for prebiotic and probiotic supplements doesn’t arise.

Parent tip : A teaspoon of chavanprash every morning and a fruit as a school snack is a very good start.

Child plucking berries from backyard

Raw honey

Honey is one of the most delicious medicine and a prebiotic. Eating honey from your local farm or beekeeper gives your child microexposure to the dirt and pollen from your area. This will strengthen their immune system and reduce flare up of allergies . The pasteurised store bought honey will not give the same effect.

Being Outdoors

Plenty of free play time

Most developed nations and the WHO insist on a minimum of 180 minutes of physical activity a day for children under 2 years of age.  It also recomends 120 minutes of free play time a day for pre-schoolers and atleast 60 minutes for children above 5. Outdoor activity is essential for: 

      1. Getting more Sunlight which helps them build their immunity and improve their sleep.
      2. Getting Vitamin D which is crucial for bone strength and their growth.
      3. Improving personality traits like creativity, imagination, emotional stability, socializing skills and attentiveness.

Child playing freely in beach

Researchers have evidence that spending time in green spaces provide protection against ADHD, depression, diabetes, obesity and reduces anxiety. There are about 21 ways through which being out in nature can improve health.

Child and mom spending time in green space

Studies and research also prove that children who spend more time in nature tend to be happier adults.

Get hands dirty –.

Children by nature love to play with dirt, mud and soil. It is fine as long as it is with good dirt like the soil in your garden or sand in the backyard, beaches or parks.

Soil based organisms (SBO) as they are called are the most important and easiest way of getting our probiotics. It is an important way humans got their probiotics and immunizations long before nutraceutical industry flourished. Our skin absorbs the necessary microbes when we are in contact with nature (walking barefoot, working on a farm or garden, playing in mud and soil). 

Research conducted in Ohio State University proves the kids who have early exposure to soil and dirt have less allergies and robust immune system.

Child playing in sand

Stop running behind children with sanitizers or anti bacterial soaps/wipes. Don’t prevent them from getting dirty  or keep them sterile and clean all the time. Regular soap with warm water is good enough to wash away the bad bacteria and to keep the good ones.

Gut Busters

While the above-mentioned points help us build the microbiome, one of the biggest disrupters are the use of OTC drugs and antibiotics. When a normally healthy adult has one round of antibiotics, it takes upto six months to get back the gut bacteria destroyed (by the antibiotics).

Poor diet with refined and processed foods, poor sleep , frequent travel, chronic stress, inactivity, smoking , alcohol and  certain medications(read most OTC medicines and antibiotics) destroy upto 40% of the good microbe species in as little as 10 days.

Organizations like WHO have been reminding medical and healthcare professionals to reduce the use of antibiotics.  Not only are we having too much of antibiotics in the form of medicines, we also have antibacterial chemicals added to personal care products. They are added to toothpaste, floor cleaners, deodorants, handwash and body soaps.  The personal care products also have endocrine disruptors that cause hormonal imbalance. Antibiotics  are also there in most of the food that we consume on a daily basis like dairy, eggs and meat and ( animals injected with antibiotics).

When we ensure that our kids have the right microbes in their body, they will automatically have a robust immune system .


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Fitness

How to workout through your cycle?

Whether or not we should workout is out of question with the current lifestyle we lead.

Workout is not a choice. Even if you belong to 10-15% of women who have PCOS or the rest who get regular periods (25-35 days), workout shall help in improving health.

Women are hormonally vibrant and so our hormones, energy, appetite are not the same even on any two days of our menstrual cycle.

If our energy, stamina and pain tolerance changes through the menstrual cycle, doesn’t it make sense to change our workout according to that?

Optimizing our activities according to cycle will help in getting better results and fat burn as we know what to focus on and when.

This article divides the menstrual cycle (28days) into 4 weeks. For those who don’t have regular periods, consider the time of bleeding as week 1, time around PMS as week 4 and the rest of the days as week 2 & 3. You could also use an ovulation kit or track basal body temperature or vaginal discharge to know when you ovulate. Soon after ovulation is week 3 .

Week 1 : During the period

Whether or not you should workout during your periods is a personal question. There is no objective ( yes/no) answer for that. It depends on one’s body, how they feel during their period and how long they have been working out for. Generally, if a woman has been training right ( with respect to time/duration/fuel/recovery and intensity) periods and working out during periods will not cause much discomfort. Nevertheless, light workout is recommended and starting something new, increasing intensity/duration or workouts with inversions are to be avoided at any cost.

 

Week 2 : Soaring high

Either in week 2 or towards end of week1 as the bleeding stops, the energy levels will soar. Evolutionarily this is the time when women are fertile, look more attractive, have high energy, stamina and pain tolerance .

This is the time to intensify workout, try new workouts, increase duration etc as our hormones and body will support us through this.

Working out at this time will help reduce PMS and other discomfort during periods.

 

Week 3 : Embrace the change

Soon after ovulation, the energy levels starts dropping. Continuing the workout with same intensity as week 2 is fine as long as your body is able to cope up with it. If the recovery and energy levels are reducing , closer to the end of week 3 reduce the intensity of workout.


Week 4 : PMS week?

This is the week when PMS kicks in for most women, as  energy levels hit rock bottom, anger, irritability reach new heights. The feel to cut off from any physical activity might be overwhelming. These symptoms will reduce within a few months of working out and eating right. If PMS and periods discomfort has not reduced in a few months of lifestyle change, it means that there is something still not right.

Checkout this article to know more about PMS and how to reduce it.

Focus on keeping your activity levels and work on your flexibility this time.

For a beginner even 5 rounds of suryanamaskar and few minutes of walking will improve energy, mood and reduce PMS . For those who have trained their body for more than 3 years, it is recommended to reduce the intensity of workout and listen to the body.

The basic idea of workout or any physical activity is not to exhaust you, but to energise you so that you can focus on things that are important to you.

 

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