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7 tips to nourish your body and soul

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post, “7 tips to nourish your body and your soul.”

You can also read it here.

With a new season comes changes and often a time for new beginnings. If you are at all like me, transitioning into the fall and winter seasons are more difficult than moving into spring and summer where the days are longer and the meals often lighter.

As the weather gets colder, we often have different food preferences as well as exercise habits. The days also get shorter, which can affect both our moods and our food preferences. However, there is lots of good we can cultivate as we transition into the fall season.

Here are seven tips to nourish your body and your soul.

1. Enjoy the beauty of nature.

As the weather cools off, the leaves begin to change (at least in many locations), and the colors are breathtaking. Many people consider it one of the most incredible times of the year. Spending time outdoors, whether it be taking a hike or just going for a brisk walk, is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of nature. It is a great way to take advantage of the changing seasons.

2. Start your day with hot cereal.

When the weather cools off, I love starting my day with hot cereal. Oatmeal or mixed whole grains make for a nutritious and satisfying breakfast, high in fiber and rich in nutrients. Top your favorite whole grain hot cereal with berries, flax seeds, and chopped nuts as a great way to boost your nutrient intake.

3. Smile.

Putting on a happy face is a great way to boost your spirits. Smiling may improve our mood, reduce our stress levels, and also make us more attractive, and even younger.Smiling increases our endorphin levels, hormones which make us feel happier. People who smile also appear to be more self confident.

The next time you are not feeling in a great mood, put on a smile, and there is a good chance, you will feel better. As the saying goes, fake it till you make it.

4. Warm up with soup.

This is a great time of year to enjoy soup. I am a huge soup fan. Soup makes for a great hot meal (or snack) with huge benefits. Soups are filling and a nutritious, and a great way to boost your intake of healthy vegetables, especially if you are in the mood for something more satisfying than just a salad. At this time of year, I tend to prefer split pea, lentil, mushroom barley, and minestrone soups. An added bonus: If you start your meal with a healthy low-cal soup, you may actually end up eating less over the course of the meal. Because soup is so high in water, it helps fill you up without too many calories. One caveat: Many store bought soups are high in sodium, so you may want to make your own soups and freeze them.

5. Go apple picking.

This is a great time of year for many of us to go apple picking. I love the different varieties of apples available in New York at this time of year. As I previously discussed, apples are high in fiber, antioxidants, low in calories, and an apple a day may even keep your prescription medication away. As the weather cools off, I love eating a baked apple for dessert. Add spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon, for an added boost of flavor and health.

6. Enjoy winter squash.

Despite its name, winter squash is grown in the summer and harvested in the fall. I am a huge fan of both butternut and acorn squash. Not only are these winter squashes nutritious, they are also versatile and, best of all, filling. One cup cooked butternut squash contains only 80 calories, over 6 grams of fiber, and is also rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. It tastes great roasted, lightly sauteed in olive oil, or pureed into a soup. I often enjoy it as a filling side dish or even as a late afternoon snack.

7. Get a massage.

I love getting a massage to help me relax and de-stress. Massage therapy, however, offers up many additional health benefits. Some research has found that massage therapy can be helpful for anxiety, digestive disorders, headaches, soft tissue strains, and even mild insomnia. My favorite is an aromatherapy massage which provides an added boost. Inhaling the aroma of essential oils (my favorite is lavender) may stimulate brain function, improve mood, and perhaps even increase cognitive function.

We would love to hear your favorite fall rituals.

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