Taking Advantage of Seasonal Eating
This may not be front page news, but in the Fall, things get colder and darker. This causes what are colloquially known as “seasons”, which bring different food availability at different times of the year.
It is not unusual for people to gain weight during this part of the year. We hunker down indoors, we eat more to obtain the calories needed to stay warm, and those autumn porters and stouts start to look really really good.
We may start getting a little concerned, as the scale starts creeping up a pound here and a pound there, especially if we are on a weight-loss oriented eating pattern. Should you panic, and start fasting three days a week? Add an extra deadlift set to that Sunday workout? Turn the kids’ room into an infrared sauna?
The good news is that this seasonal weight gain may not be a bad thing. The Calton Project was conducted in 2005 to examine and observe eating patterns of people around the world. It found that the healthiest people, the “groups exhibiting the most impressive physiques and vibrant health1”, were those that did not make their food choices based on macro levels, calorie counts, or vegan/vegetarian/carnivore criteria; rather they just ate what was available to them at any particular time. In a word, they ate seasonally, and let the foods they ate tell their bodies what to do, in order to better be suited for that particular season.
Obviously, seasons and foods vary widely from region to region. But that’s the whole point. Those foods suit those people, these foods suit these people. In the U.S., for instance, we associate fall with foods such as squash/pumpkins, apples and pears, corn, cranberries, persimmons, sweet potatoes, wild mushrooms, and chestnuts.
Notice anything about that group? Yep – lots of sugary fruits and starches. Now, if the foods available to us in a season are giving instructions to our metabolism, what are these foods telling us? Basically, we’re being geared up to sleep more, add a bit to our layer of fat for insulation and long-term energy storage, and make ourselves more prepared to “weather the storm”, as it were.
Compare the survival chances of the person who has added a few extra pounds of fat to the one who has not. While the effects of the environment have been lessened somewhat by technological advances (like sweaters and central heating), it still stands to reason that those who have adapted to the season will fare better and remain healthier, because they have followed the evolutionary guidance that has been operating for millenia. In a nutshell – weight gain in the fall and winter is natural and desirable. Keeping to a “lose weight at all costs” mentality may be going against your body’s adaptation processes.
So go ahead and relax a little – while keeping to your Primal guidelines – we’ll trim down again in the new year. Which is what we’ll discuss in the next blog post. Happy holidays!
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Published on December 22, 2018.