Why It’s Essential to Diversify Your Diet

So many people I work with are looking for quick wins when it comes to their health and eating habits. One of the biggest opportunities I see is for people to stop eating the same way 365 days a year. Quite simply, we are not wired to eat the same way all the time. Ancient healing sciences like Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine have taught this for thousands of years, but in the West, we have long forgotten this simple truth.

The seasonal food movement is too often seen as some kind of fringe alternative diet, but anyone who has studied even just the basics of the energetics of food knows that nature provides us foods in each season that specifically balance the predominant energies of that time of year. Melons and cucumbers are cooling and abundant in summer. The root vegetables and heavy squashes that make their way into markets in the fall are grounding and help us navigate fall’s airy tendencies. In the spring, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower reach their peak and counteract sluggishness that tends to accompany the onset of spring.

All of this is important not only because growing cycles fluctuate, but modern science is now catching up and finding that our healthy gut bacteria change throughout the course of the year. Our bodies are not designed nor equipped to digest the same foods optimally year-round.

A ground-breaking book published earlier this year, The Plant Paradox, also reveals a well-researched case for how foods eaten out of season contain high levels of lectins, which are naturally occurring compounds that are intended to protect plants from human predators. Excess lectin consumption is associated with destroying gut flora and increasing risk for a range of digestive issues, including leaky gut syndrome.

Finally, consider that the amount of food our ancient ancestors would find on their plates would wildly vary from season to season. Winter meals were often lighter in nature, while meals in the summer and fall harvest season would be more abundant in preparation for the scarcity ahead. In a time when food is hardly scarce for so many of us, we have a tendency to overeat all the time, or to not be mindful of the natural hunger patterns that arise within us.

Many of the clients I work with will find an eating routine that seems to work for them, and then are mystified when several months down the road, that diet no longer seems to serve them. This is evidence of how our digestion is not a static system, but rather an ever-changing complex microbiome. By the same token, the way we eat at age 30 will often look very different from how we ate at 20, and so on throughout our lives. The most important key to maintain healthy digestion for life is to pay attention and seek help and try new things when things seem to go off course.

Here are a few tips to start incorporating the principles of variety into your meals:

·      Shop at your local farmers market. Choose organic producers or farms that sell different things throughout the year, as they tend to be more in sync with what’s in season.

·      Get to know seasonal growing cycles. If you don’t have a year-round farmers market or prefer shopping at conventional markets, research what crops are in season during each part of the year. The L.A. Times has a fabulous online resource for Southern California here (it also loosely correlates to growing seasons nationally, with some crops coming into season later in colder locales). Choose fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. as much as possible, with Mexico as a secondary source. Avoid fruits shipped in from South America and New Zealand.

·      Vary the quantity of food you eat throughout the day. Tailor the size of your breakfast to your morning hunger levels. Lunch should be your largest meal of the day, as it is consumed at the time when your digestive fire is burning its brightest. Keep your dinners on the lighter side and don’t eat too late into the night, especially in the winter.


If you need support adding variety to your diet, I can help. I offer individual consultations, menu planning assistance and personal chef services that can help you diversify your diet. Use the contact button below to reach out.

Just Because It's Local Doesn't Mean It's Seasonal

Those of us living in Southern California are blessed by the amazing availability of fresh produce grown not too far from home. Unlike some areas of the country where farmers markets are seasonal, our markets operate year-round, making it easy and affordable to access gorgeous produce 365 days a year.


When we walk into a farmers market here, it can be tempting to let down our hyper-vigilant food consumer guard. With no labels to study, no country of origin stickers to squint at, many people think they can breeze through the market and be assured that anything they come into contract with is local and seasonal. The local piece may be true, but it is very much a myth that farmers markets sell only seasonal fare. Indoor growing facilities and various alternative growing techniques (e.g., aquaponics) allow SoCal farmers to grow things like tomatoes throughout the year.

As an informed consumer, it’s up to you to learn what is truly in season in your neck of the country. For those in Southern California, the L.A. Times offers a great online resource to help you identify seasonal crops (and it includes tips for picking the best of the bunch). And if you live outside of the region, this is still a pretty handy guide considering much of our country’s produce comes from this area.

You might be reading this and asking yourself what the big deal is about eating seasonally. If something is available, locally-grown and organic, why not just eat it? Here are a few advantages seasonal eating provides: 

1) Seasonal foods are powerful medicine. We live in a time where many of us are disconnected from the rhythms of nature. Seasonal foods remind us that nature is constantly in flux, and many are inherently balancing from the standpoint of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and other healing systems. For example, in fall and early winter, times when people are prone to feeling a bit scattered, root vegetables and heavy winter squashes grow in abundance, providing grounding energy. Melons are cooling and flourish in the summertime. It’s not a mistake that certain things grow when they do. If we eat them year-round, we might actually thrown ourselves off-balance. It is advantageous to our health when the contents of our plate vary from season to season.

2) Greater enjoyment. If you compare a December strawberry to a July strawberry, you can bet with pretty great confidence that the latter will be sweeter, juicier and more delicious. Fruits and vegetables simply taste best at their peak. I also find that when I don’t eat something all the time, I come to really appreciate it during the time when it’s meant to be eaten. For example, persimmons are typically only available in the fall, and I eagerly anticipate their arrival each October. I make it a point to savor each one, knowing their time is limited. If I ate them all the time, I would not have nearly the appreciation I do for them.

3) Seasonal foods are good for the earth. From what I’ve learned from my friends that farm, the best way to maintain healthy soil is to cycle various crops throughout the year in the same soil. Keeping the same crops going all the time depletes the soil and produces food that is less dense in nutrients.


You can say yes to seasonal growing by making a point to shop from stalls at the farmers market that sell mainly seasonal crops. I always avoid the places that sell the same things all throughout the year. 


If you do want to enjoy tomatoes, berries and summer’s other gems throughout the year, use this as motivation to learn how to can, make jams, dehydrate and take part in other food preservation techniques if you don’t already do so. The tomatoes you can at the end of August will always be superior to any tomato you can buy in February. I generally like to use preserved foods as accents to meals that include mainly seasonal ingredients.

By no means should we beat ourselves up if we decide not to maintain a 100% seasonal diet, but I do encourage people to let a minimum of 90-95% of their produce purchases be truly seasonal. People generally share that eating in this way not only yields tastier fare, but also challenges them to learn about new vegetables and seek out new recipes and preparations. If eating seasonally feels limiting to you, try reframing it as an opportunity to enjoy the best of the best and to develop a deeper appreciation of food and the ever-changing nature of the world around us.