That feeling of change in the air isn’t in your imagination. Spring is truly the rebirth part of the natural cycle, offering us an opportunity to shed the habits and energy of winter and grow something fresh. Whether we know or like it, winter’s slower, colder months change how we interact with the world, and more so, how our bodies work. We sit more, we eat more heartily, we absorb less vitamin D, and we’re more likely to feel down.
By the time spring rolls around, we’re in need of some energetic lightening up, which we can do by tweaking our eating to align with the season and our habits to kickstart our energy. If we allow them to, our bodies will follow the example of nature and start to open up, reactivating from months of cold weather.
Here’s how you can ride the wave of springtime to transition out of hibernation.
Drink ample filtered water every day. It is the simplest and most important thing you can do for your cells. It will help move toxins out of your system and keep digestion and mental function strong. While frequent visits to the bathroom can be annoying, know that water coming in—and going out—means you’re holding onto less of the toxins that cause imbalances and deplete energy.
You may also wish to explore ways to cleanse and protect the liver and GI tract. A winter of additional salt and oil can cause stagnation in the body, so incorporating medicinal foods like green tea, dandelion root, burdock and milk thistle can help break up sludge.
While your body eliminates the bulk of its accumulated toxins in the bathroom (see ‘Hydrate,’ above), there are some compounds that preferentially exit the body via sweat. It’s yet another reason to check out a hot yoga class or visit a sauna.
On top of extra warm activities, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day—enough to elevate your heart rate and break a sweat. Choose anything that gives you enough pleasure that you will keep doing it on a regular basis, and include variety. Use your ClassPass to check out an outdoor run club or outdoor bootcamp.
Eat in alignment with spring
When we eat seasonally, we take advantage of the gifts nature provides. Conveniently, the plant foods arriving in spring contain the very nutrients and detoxifiers we need. The best place to start? The farmers market.
You may see a variety of sprouts on display. These baby plants possess some of the most potent springtime energy and are 400 times more nutritionally dense than the adult plant. They also provide immune defense for next winter by bolstering the good bacteria living in your digestive tract. You can support your immunity now by feeding your gut flora nutritionally-dense sprouts like alfalfa, chickpea and mung bean sprouts, which are easy to incorporate into salads and smoothies.
Fresh herbs are also coming into season. Their high concentration of chlorophyll acts as a natural deodorizer and cleanser for your intestinal tract, breaking up stagnation and moving out anything you’re holding onto.
Chlorophyll can be also be found in dark and bright green veggies, so take in all the chard, spinach and beet tops popping up this time of year. They naturally break down the mucus built up on the digestive tract from a heavier winter diet.
Warm up your digestion
To stimulate digestion and encourage your body to further release whatever it doesn’t need, add a little cayenne, cinnamon or turmeric to meals.
Fiber can also help a slowed digestive tract. By including foods like brown rice, oatmeal, beets, radishes, artichokes, cabbage and broccoli are deliciously simple options. Make a slaw of these to use as a foundation for stir-fries or curries to easily increase your daily veggie intake.
Alkalize, alkalize, alkalize
Heavy wintertime foods like meat and oil tend to cause the blood to become acidic. Acidic blood can lead to sickness, so it’s in our interest to rebalance the body by consuming foods that move our blood pH towards neutral. Many spring veggies—and some leftover from the wintertime—are naturally alkaline. So up your daily dose of celery, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower, in either whole or juice form.
Whatever you choose, embrace this time of transition as an opportunity to let go of something that is no longer serving you. Sedentary evenings? Beige meals? All coffee, no water? Choose something to focus on that will increase your energy and enjoyment of the warm weather ahead. Happy spring, happy you!