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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seasonal Eating Was Good For The Caveman But Is It Good For You?


I'm a big fan of paleo and primal nutrition principles and that's what makes up the foundation of my nutrition plan. I'd say I agree with about 90% of the paleo and primal nutrition concepts. Seasonal eating is a hot topic in certain circles. And it ties into the paleo and primal train of thought.

What is seasonal eating? Basically it means that you try to eat what was most prevalent during each season back in the caveman days. Keeping in mind that this concept of eating is based upon old school caveman times. It changed dramatically depending on your location. A cave dude in Alaska would be eating different stuff than a cave dude in Florida. You get the idea.

So I'm going to base my overview of seasonal eating on Georgia / Alabama cause that's where I roam year round with my cave in Alabama.

In the summertime you’d eat more plant and vegetation type food like fruits and vegetables. Meat, fat and fish would also be available. Vegetables and plant based foods would be more plentiful so your macronutrient ratio would contain more fibrous carbs. And you would have plenty of protein and fats available.

During the autumn season (say beginning in later September), the vegetation and plants start to change and die off so your carb supply starts to change or dwindle. As a result you’d eat whatever was available in your region. Game meat, fish, fowl, apples, cantaloupes, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, lima beans, okra, peas, pecans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and watermelon would be some of the types of food available depending on where you were at.

When winter hits around December 21st, the food choices are yet again changing and different. You would hunt for meat whenever you got a chance, fishing would be limited, fowl and poultry type birds would be limited, allot of the big game would be going into hibernation but several types may be available to hunt, and your carb supply would be very limited. Apples, cabbage, carrots and pecans would be some types of food temporarily available depending on your location. Days would be shorter and colder and you would probably sleep more while trying to stay warm. As a result your calorie intake would probably be less. And you would probably have put on some fat from the decrease in activity and heavier carb intake of the summer and autumn seasons. 6 pack abs were not cool to have year round back in the cave dude days. Staying alive was the mission.

Then would come spring around March 20th. Days would get a little longer and warmer. You would start venturing out more and your activity level would increase. Carbs would slowly become more prevalent so once again your macronutrient level would change again. You would transition from a heavier protein / fat intake to a more balanced intake with the increased carbs available.

And so it would continue, season to season, with your macronutrient intake changing as your activity level also changed. It makes sense because it really couldn't be any other way. You ate that way or died. Pretty simple huh? So the advocates of seasonal eating recommend going back to that way of eating. It has many healthy points and it's definitely raw, organic and as green earthy as you get.

My take on it is like this: there are many (if not most) parts of the seasonal / paleo / primal eating ways that are awesome for you and we should follow it to a point. But as everything goes - we have evolved for better or worse into a different lifestyle. We don't live like cave dude did. We do things year round now. Our activity levels can be a constant while some people naturally still follow seasonal changes. I do the same stuff year round. I work the same amount, I exercise the same amount, I sleep the same amount so I need to have a sustainable plan for me. Some people put on weight in the winter, stay home more, eat differently and then in the spring and summer lose weight, become more active, spend more time outside etc...

So you need to eat according to your lifestyle and incorporate applicable seasonal / paleo / primal foods and principles into your meal plan. One size does not fit all in this regard. Use seasonal / paleo / primal concepts and foods as much as you can while applying it so it makes sense and works for you. No two meal plans will be the same but the nutritional concepts hold true and steady. Eat healthy and exercise regularly while leading an active life and apply these concepts as they fit in. Use the common sense rule to everything you do. The nutrition plan is always the hardest part so keep at it one step at a time. It's a long journey, not a race. I know you can do it cause you are simply awesome. Eat some fresh, raw, organic food and have a great day. :-)

Eric
Dempsey's Resolution Fitness 
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