Be Light and Healthy

Happy Summer Solstice!

Posted on: June 19, 2011

“Then followed that beautiful season… Summer….Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The joyful nature of our souls shines as the summer solstice is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere. The daylight is finishing its cycle of expansion and will begin the process of slowly receding.  Summer is the season of growth and maturation and reminds us of time long gone.  It brings back memories of carefree childhood days playing outdoors.  Seemingly endless days spent chasing butterflies and building sandcastles as the sun bathed us in its warmth.  Hearing an old summer song can invoke feelings of nostalgia as we recall the hot summer days of our teenage years spent hanging out with friends free of life’s burdens with a lifetime of possibilities before us.  It was easy to live in the moment without giving a thought to the past or the future.  Just as we are truly beginning to enjoy the increasing light of warm days, we are reminded of the fleeting nature of the seasons as daylight begins to wane. Like nature’s seasons, the seasons of our lives are transient.  

Life just seems simpler and more invigorating in the summer.  We feel more alive, and our hearts are lighter.  The world shimmers brightly as the vitality of her life force infuses our consciousness.  The gentle awakening of the earth that began in the spring continues as the seeds that were sowed and sprouted through the darkness of the soil reach maturation.  The energy of our planet is at a high point as nature’s vital essence provides the natural resources necessary to produce the crops that sustain us.  We begin to reap the harvest of her nourishing bounty.  The vivid colors of freshly picked strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, eggplants are visual evidence of the vibrant life force of ripe fruits and vegetables.

If we are living in synchronicity with nature’s rhythms, lighter foods naturally appeal to us as we are entrained to summer’s tempo.  In today’s modern society we’ve lost our connections to our natural instincts.  Processed foods have become the primary sustenance of most people.  In these cases we may not recognize or may ignore our body’s intuitive hunger for the foods that nature provides during the summer season.  We’ve become habituated to eating the same foods year-round, but our bodies have different needs throughout nature’s cycles.  We feel healthier and more energized if our eating habits are seasonally adjusted and in harmony with nature.  Our ancestors had no choice but to eat what was locally grown and available seasonally.  They spent the long days of summer working the land and got their energy from the fruits and vegetables they harvested.

Eating fresh, unprocessed foods nourishes every cell in our bodies and fills us with positive energy.  Fresh, locally grown food is more nutrient dense due to the shorter time span between harvest and consumption.  In addition, supporting local agriculture helps to eliminate transportation pollution and makes us feel more connected to our local communities.   The Farmers’ Markets are opening and berry picking has started.  If you don’t typically eat fresh produce, visit a local Farmers’ Market to experience it. Take the time to engage all of your senses during your visit.  See the vivid colors of ripened berries and smell their enticing aromas.  Feel the texture of the radishes and asparagus.  Try something that has been freshly picked and listen as you take your first bite.  Pause to really savor and taste the lusciousness as you chew.  Take a weekly trip to a Farmers’ Market to investigate what newly ripened produce is available. Berry picking is a great way to get kids interested in healthy eating and cultivate an appreciation of the nourishment provided by the land.

On hot summer days, there is little desire to spend time cooking in a hot kitchen.  Many people lose their appetites and choose to eat lighter.  Raw foods in the form of fruits, salads, leafy greens, and sprouts become more attractive.  Raw fruits and vegetables are both cooling and energizing.  I find the lethargic feeling that sometimes comes with the heat and is exacerbated by consuming processed foods is counteracted by eating raw foods.  I feel lighter, happier, and withstand the heat better when I eat fresh fruits and vegetables.  Due to their high water content, fruits and vegetables are also a source of hydration.  It’s important to stay well-hydrated if you’re outside in the heat.  If you find yourself feeling sluggish, pause for a moment and consider if the feeling can be attributed to dehydration. 

During the warm weather, we also spend more time outdoors with family and friends.  We look forward to barbeques.  If you’re grilling, lightly grilled vegetables or fruits are a nice addition to a meal.  It’s as easy as brushing some olive oil and sprinkling some Italian spices on slices of zucchini and summer squash before grilling them.  Another simple option is wrapping some onions and/or garlic in tin foil with a drizzle of olive oil or dollop of butter on top and letting them slowly cook on the grill until they’re tender and caramelized.  Grilled pineapple is also a sweet and delicious treat.   

When I was a junk food queen prior to my 100 pound weight loss, the hot weather was an excuse to eat ice cream.  Back then I rarely ate fresh produce and was conditioned to want ice cream when the temperatures climbed.  I was accustomed to eating processed foods and wasn’t conscious of healthier options.   As I slowly changed my eating habits by adding healthy foods into my routine, I learned to listen to my body.  Like many people, I feel congested when I eat dairy.  I still indulge in ice cream occasionally; however, fresh fruit or a healthy fruit smoothie is a better option for me.  Delicious and refreshing with lots of beneficial antioxidants, fruit smoothies are also a great way to get some healthy food into kids.    

I invite you to savor the days of summer by living in the moment.  Harness the energy of the season to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your life.  Take a trip to a Farmers’ Market and consider trying something new.  Create some joyful summer memories by taking your kids or yourself berry picking.  In addition, I invite you to forward this blog to your friends and sign up for weekly e-mail updates at www.belightandhealthy.com to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.  When you sign up, you will receive an e-mail requesting you confirm your subscription.  After you confirm, you will begin receiving weekly updates.

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The intention of this blog is to share information and inspire people to Be Light and Healthy.

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