We are now in the heart of winter, the season most often associated with coming down with the common cold, her cousin, the flu, or god forbid, something worse.

Fortunately, I am here to tell you that it is not difficult or time consuming to take preventative measures in order to avoid getting sick.  In fact, you can ward off sickness this season simply by tuning into your body and following her natural urges and cravings.

Winter is the darkest and coldest of the seasons.  It is in the winter that Mother Nature withdraws and retreats deep into the earth to rest and prepare for the activity that spring will soon bring.   Just as we are an extension of our Mother (Nature), we, too, feel the increased urge to withdraw, rest, and replenish our stores for the season’s upcoming change.

You may notice that you are feeling more emotional, introspective, and quiet.   Perhaps you feel you need more sleep and are craving heavier and fattier foods.

This is all very normal and it is important to listen to these urges and cravings in order to boost your immunity, maintain inner balance, and thwart off sickness this season and the next.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the organs associated with winter are the kidneys, adrenals, and bladder.  It is especially important to support these organs during this time to avoid energy depletion and compromised immunity.  And unsurprisingly, the cravings and urges we have in the winter are naturally supportive of these organs.

So what are these natural urges and cravings?

#1 Cravings for Heavier and Fattier Foods: During the cold winter months we naturally crave warm, cooked foods that are high in fat and protein.  The foods that are most available to us during the winter are foods from the fall harvest that store well in the winter – root vegetables, squash, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds as well as meat.  These foods naturally build the body and contribute to tissue and organ repair.  Winter is all about rebuilding and replenishing our stores from the activity from the summer and early fall months.  So take note of your cravings and rely on foods high in protein and fat to renew and recharge your body and immune system.Winter foods that warm the body and/or nourish the kidneys and adrenals:


  • Adzuki, kidney, or black beans
  • Walnuts
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Beef, duck, goose, mutton, rabbit (if you are buying meats, look for grass-fed, hormone-free, and nitrate-free)
  • Coconut oil, coconut milk, grass fed ghee
  • Winter squash, sweet potatoes, root vegetables
  • Mushrooms, leeks, green leafy vegetables
  • Miso soup
  • Seaweed
  • Cranberry and pomegranate
  • Garlic and ginger
  • Stock/broth made with animal bones
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Soups and Stews

Stay away from sugar and processed foods. These non-foods damage the adrenals and stress the kidneys.  Also, avoid eating too many cold and raw foods, which are better suited for your body during the spring and summer months.


#2 The Urge to Sleep, Rest, and Relax to Recover: With the shorter days and long cold nights you may feel an urge to rest and sleep more.  Do not ignore this natural urge.  In order to nourish our adrenals and rebuild the body from the more active seasons, we must be in a state of relaxation.  When we are in a state of relaxation the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates digestion, detoxification, and tissues and organ repair is activated. Give yourself permission this season to get adequate sleep and take time for yourself to rest and de-stress.

Action Steps:


  • Make getting to sleep by 10pm a priority and take naps when you need them.  Cortisol is released at about 11pm and leads to a second wind that can keep us up for hours.
  • Take time to breathe deeply for a few minutes each morning and each evening to clear your mind. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and tell your body that the fire is out and that it can stop the production of adrenaline and cortisol.
  • Say “no” – more than you think you should.  We tend to overcommit our time and energy to others, which leaves little time and energy for those activities that recharge and revitalize our own energy stores.  I know it’s hard, but let taking care of you take precedence this season.  Your body and immune system will thank you in the spring.

**Giving yourself permission to rest and de-stress is not an excuse to ditch your exercise routine. Because it is cold outside it is important to maintain balance by generating heat at our core through movement.  Although resting is a priority, exercise is essential for preventing energy stagnation and keeping digestion robust  – which will keep you from holding onto excess weight and allow you to properly fuel your cells from the food you eat.


#3 The Urge to Be Quiet and Reflect:  During the winter we are more sensitive and receptive.  It is the perfect time to follow our natural inclination to go inward and reflect upon our life.  Reflection is especially important for getting clear on those things that are no longer serving us (causing us undue stress) so that we can take steps to let those things go.


Chronic stress fries our adrenals which can lead to adrenal fatigue and a host of other conditions.  Identify those areas or people in your life that are causing your stress and take steps to eliminate or reduce them.


Action Steps:

  • Meditate: Take five minutes a day, or what ever amount of time that feels comfortable to you, to sit, focus on your breath, and check in with yourself.  You will be amazed by the wisdom your body imparts to you when given the chance.
  • Journal: Make a list of people and situations that leave you feeling de-energized and depleted.  If you know a situation depletes you, then set clear boundaries for dealing with that specific situation.

Remember that putting yourself first and taking care of you means being able to better serve the ones you love most.

If you need support getting back into the groove of taking care of you and getting back on track with eating foods that nourish your body (and your adrenals), check out my WINTER CLEAN EATING PROGRAM or email me to schedule an appointment at [email protected].