Mary Shackelton, MPH, ND
RAW FOODS IN WINTER
Updated: Sep 1, 2022
Raw Food in Winter? 4 Tips to make the switch to cooked veggies
You’ve heard this before, right? Eat warming foods in the winter, cooling foods in the summer. Putting this into practice for a few weeks this winter might be a game changer for your overall energy and digestion.
We tend to think that if veggies are cooked they have less nutrients, and perhaps, this is true. However, when we eat raw foods, we are likely not absorbing all of their nutrients because they are more difficult to break down and absorb. Digestively, cooked foods are easier to break down, absorb, and metabolize, which means you might get more nutrients from them even though they are cooked.
One complaint often heard from raw foodists is that they are cold. In the Chinese Medicine tradition, this could be a “damp” condition, which often leads to more fatigue. Dark circles, poor energy, poor circulation, and troubles with temperature regulation can all be the result of too much cold food in the winter.
We tend to think of raw food as cold, refrigerated, and even chilled food. But during the winter, especially, this does not have to be the case. Eating food at room temperature, or even heating it until it is warm to the touch, are great ways to avoid dampness and challenges with internal temperature regulation.
Eating a salad is never a bad choice, and a drinking a smoothie is a great way to meet your veggie demand. However, doing both in the winter might need reconsideration. Since raw veggies are more challenging to digest, it should technically take you about 30-45 minutes to eat a big salad, if you are chewing properly. If you are not chewing raw vegetables enough to break them down in a way your body can process the nutrients, then you may not be getting any of the expected benefits.
A smoothie is a great way to expedite a meal and get a significant portion of your veggies in for the day, but imagine eating all of those fruits and vegetables in one sitting! (Trust me, this is a new way of looking at things for me, too.) By gulping your smoothie down, you are not mixing the enzymes secreted in your saliva with the food, which is the first step in digestion. The actual quantity of food put into the blender can be quite enormous. I know I personally tend to pack in as much kale and other greens as I can. Of course, blending the veggies helps with digestion, but what is the limit to what we can absorb in one meal?
So, here are some tips to make the switch to consuming more cooked vegetables:
1. Warm your smoothie up to at least room temperature before drinking it.
2. Get the majority of your vegetables in the winter in cooked forms (e.g. steamed, gently sautéed, gently roasted, or in soups)
3. Add soup to your menu for at least one meal of the day. This is actually an very easy way to get your veggies in for the day as well as soup can be prepared in advance so several of your meals can be ready and waiting for you.
4. Cooked vegetables for breakfast seem out of place but try this with your favorite oils for a wintertime treat. Leftovers can make this transition really easy.
For further reading: https://www.rawvibrantliving.co.uk/2018/11/22/how-to-eat-raw-and-keep-warm-through-winter/