What is seasonal eating?
During the winter we crave warm, comforting foods like soups and stews, while during the summer we lean towards light, refreshing things like salads and smoothies. This might not be the result of a simple craving, but your body telling you what nutrients it needs during each season.
As part of Healthy Eating Week, we’ve written this guide to discuss what seasonal eating is, the benefits, and how you can switch up your diet with the seasons to live a healthier, more sustainable life.
What is seasonal eating?
Seasonal eating isn’t just about eating the foods that are in season. While we gravitate towards seasonal fruits and vegetables because they’re tastier and inexpensive, we should also choose seasonal foods because they’re designed to supply our bodies with the exact nutrients we need during each particular season.
For example, during spring and summer time when the weather is warmer, we start craving foods that keep us cool and won’t fill us up too much. However, during the autumn and winter months, we need warm foods rich in vitamins because of the lack of sunlight.
What are the benefits of seasonal eating?
It’s suggested that by opting for a seasonal diet, you may benefit from becoming happier, healthier and stronger, and in turn, you might be more likely to maintain a healthy weight.
Let’s look at summer, when we have longer, warmer days. During this time we’re more active and we sweat more. Our bodies need foods that hydrate us, like watermelon, berries and cucumbers.
Then, during the winter, our bodies need foods that keep us warm and nourished to protect us against the cold weather and all of those nasty winter viruses.
Seasonal eating is better for the environment, too. When we grow food out of its natural season, we need to artificially create seasonal weather conditions. To do this, fossil fuels are used and large quantities of water which can have a negative impact on the environment.
Additionally, food that isn’t in season is often shipped from another part of the world, using up large amounts of energy and emitting greenhouse gases through its transportation.
Are there any disadvantages to seasonal eating?
There are disadvantages to a seasonal diet. Although some months will provide you with plenty of fruits and vegetables to choose from, in winter, this isn’t always the case. You may struggle to get all of the essential nutrients you need, especially here in the UK.
Seasonal eating can be difficult for picky eaters as the options are limited. But on the other hand, it introduces you to foods that you may never have considered before, and you never know, you might enjoy it!
How to eat seasonally
It all sounds easy in theory, but how can you actually eat seasonally? Well, keep reading and we’ll give you some helpful tips to adopting the seasonal diet.
- If the price in the supermarket is high, odds are, it’s out of season. If the price is lower than usual, it’s probably in season.
- Don’t just rely on supermarkets for your food–visit farmers markets, too. They’re a great place to get your hands on local, quality produce, and because you’re buying it directly from your local area, you might be able to grab yourself a bargain.
- Make a seasonal food calendar to know which fruits and vegetables are in season so you always have an idea what to buy, month by month. This is an easy way to plan ahead with both your meal prep and your shopping list.
- Pull on your gardening gloves and grow your own produce. This way, you’ll always know your produce is fresh, and of course, in season!
- Fancy a food out of season? Try preserving food like cabbage by making kimchi or sauerkraut, or pickling vegetables to enjoy them even when they’re out of season.
Seasonal produce tends to be fresher, cheaper, tastier, and of course, healthier! By choosing a seasonal diet, not only does it benefit your body, but it benefits the environment, too. In-season produce doesn’t need an artificial environment to grow nor does it need to be imported from other countries.
While some months you can be spoiled for choice, during others, you may struggle, but we think the pros outweigh the cons. After all, you may discover new, delicious fruits or vegetables you never would have picked if not for your decision to go seasonal–but ensure you’re still getting your 5-a-day! If you need any more information about healthy eating, visit the British Nutrition Foundation website.