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I’d like to share a story with you of a patient of mine, “Mary.” I had seen Mary a couple of times early in the year for some mood, energy and sleep issues. That spring, she came in for her follow-up visit. She told me that her previous issues were resolved, but was dealing with something different: she had recently lost her appetite. She told me that she wasn’t hungry for anything but salads. She reported that her energy was better, her sleep improved and her mood was great. Her only complaint was her barely-there appetite.
I went through her history and all of her concerns, and came to the conclusion that… it was the month of March! I told her that, every spring, the body will slip into a fat metabolic state and the appetite should decrease. Her lack of appetite and desire for only salad was quite natural; it was her body craving spring-harvested foods! I assured her that this was a good thing and nothing to worry about.
Every spring, nature makes an effort to help the body become a better fat burner. The heavier, higher-protein and higher-fat foods harvested in the winter that help insulate and rejuvenate the body are replaced with the very austere, low-fat harvest of spring. To get energy without fat in the diet, the body is forced to burn its own fat each spring – don’t miss this natural opportunity to reset and detox!
Traditionally, after a long winter, much of the food stores are depleted and the scanty, but much anticipated spring harvest is rarely enough to adequately feed a family. Many religions adapted to nature’s season of austerity by practicing religious fasting. Native Americans did their vision quests in the spring, and Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the spring. Ramadan, Lent, and many Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim religious holidays are in the spring and incorporated fasting.
As you begin to re-connect your eating habits with the cycles of nature with our free year-long 3-Season Diet Challenge, you might notice that, as the weather warms, there is a decrease in your appetite. You may not feel as hungry, and eat much less than you did in the depth of winter when the desire was to hunker down and eat a big warm meal.
There is a significant amount of science to back up the health benefits of eating less. (5) In fact, the average American eats 100% more calories than they need according to one report. (1) We eat the 100% of the food we do need, and then we eat another 100% of foods and calories that we don’t need. It is the extra 100% that seems to be causing all the problems.
In one study, when a group of humans reduced their calorie intake by only 20% for 2-6 years, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and weight were all significantly improved. (2,3) They were still eating 80% more calories than they needed! It seems that just a small reduction in caloric intake can make a big difference in health. (2,3,5) Spring is nature’s time to make that happen naturally.
There is compelling evidence that suggests that we are genetically wired to thrive, not just survive, when we eat less food. In a couple of studies, during times of famine when food was scarce, the cells actually lived longer and the mitochondria made more energy. (3,4) Scientists believe that we are genetically wired to endure and even thrive during times when foods are scarce. Never in our evolutionary history did we have so much food available as we do now. Simply put, we do not have the genetics to overeat and, once again, spring is our window to naturally desire less food, eat less, reset fat burning, lose weight and thrive.
Here are some strategies to help take advantage of nature’s new year this spring:
1. Tune in to your hunger levels and eat less when your appetite naturally allows you.
2. Consider eating less for both breakfast and supper.
3. Try making lunch bigger and more relaxing, and see if the slow burning of spring allows the big lunch to carry you through dinner.
4. Follow a naturally occurring wheat and dairy-free diet.
5. Circle the foods you love on the Spring Grocery List and eat more of those foods.
6. Consider a spring detox. Either join us this spring for the 2-week Group Colorado Cleanse (an at-home guided cleanse), or try the simple 4-Day Short Home Cleanse (download the free instructional eBook!).
7. Pick up some herbal root teas like dandelion and burdock, and add turmeric and ginger into your diet or supplements.
8. If comfortable, consider a fast where you:
a. Drink only water for a day.
b. Drink only blended vegetables for a day.
c. Eat nothing after noon for one day a week.