My eating preferences now seem to be shifting with the seasons, something that may have happened in the past but I never really noticed until I started paying attention (a large part due to eating paleo). This past spring and summer, I was all over salads and fresh greens and veggies and fruits. Now that it's becoming winter, I'm finding that I'm craving root vegetables, potatoes, hearty slow-cooked meat rather than things like steak, and starchy fall fruits like apples and pears. Just to put it out there, I'm a pretty loose follower of paleo, though I was stricter in the past - I'm actually eating rice and other non-gluten grains somewhat frequently, for several reasons. And I'm not worrying about eating too much fruit/nuts/potatoes.
Has anyone else experienced this? How does eating with the seasons fit into paleo? I guess I ask that because I'm not eating the lovely kinds of ideal paleo meals that I was this summer, which were mostly a heaping plate of vegetables and a piece of meat. That doesn't sound as appealing to me now... It was a little bit alarming when I first noticed that I was craving more carbs, but I think I've relaxed now that I've started thinking that it's a natural, seasonal cycle.
And I don't think these cravings and preferences are simply caused by changing produce at the farmer's market. I have a feeling this is something more biological than that. Or maybe it is more about the weather, or external factors, I'm not sure.
During a period of what some might consider extreme locavorism, I spent two winters essentially living off fatty grass-fed beef and pastured pork, collard greens, beets, turnips, and winter squashes. The body has its own wisdom so far as the seasons go, and when you get away from the supermarket culture of food you learn to listen to it.
In the winter I sleep more and eat heartier, switching out protein somewhat for starch and fat. My body is telling me to rest and make it through the cold until spring and summer come and bring tomatoes!
(If this is overly silly and lyrical, well, the rhythm of the seasons caused me to buy some organic unfiltered cider along with my beets and greens.)
This is a well known phenomenon, even among SAD eaters. Nutritionists like to blame holiday weight gain partially on this, ie the tendency to eat more fat and meat during the cold months. Personally, I think, the main driver is the carbs and the overall increased calories available during the festivities.
I suspect the main reason for the phenomenon has a lot to with protein being more thermogenic and also just increased need for calories in order to maintain body heat. Our bodies are probably designed to consume the kinds of foods most likely to be available at any given season. In the winter, that would be meat and tubers. In the warmer months, you would expect more greens and fruits. This makes total sense that the body has evolved to know what foods are available and is adapted to use those exact foods to solve problems it would face during that season. But that brings up an interesting question, now that you mention it. Could this mean that meat and fat are the best healthiest cold weather foods? Would make sense if true.
I've been craving potatoes big time recently. I think there are lots of good reasons to eat seasonally- obviously the quality of seasonal fruits/veggies is going to be way better.
In general, my approach to these things is "try to emulate a more natural environment, and listen to your body". There's still a lot we don't know about how our body interacts with the food we eat. If we eliminate the really bad stuff, our instincts will be a pretty good guide. Beyond that we need to tinker around and see what works better for us.
Fall, football, and food! 6 Answers