Ask a Dietitian: Should I Change My Diet With the Seasons?

Are you someone who enjoys a delicious smashed avo on each and every one of the 52 Sunday mornings in any given year? You're definitely not alone. But it wasn't until recently that you could find a good avocado outside of the summer months.

As farming practices, storage solutions, and transport options have advanced, we've become spoilt for choice when it comes to produce. Many of us have no idea when fruits and vegetables are actually in season where we live.

So, is that something we should be clued in about? And should we be changing our diet to suit the seasons? Here's what you need to know about eating seasonally.

What is seasonal eating?

The concept of seasonal eating has been around, well, since the beginning of the human race. Before the arrival of supermarkets, we gathered what was available and grew our own food. Depending on where you lived, that meant broccoli and bananas in spring, mangoes and tomatoes in the summer, pears and pumpkin in autumn, and oranges and carrots in winter. Eating seasonally also means eating locally.

What are the benefits of seasonal eating?

There are a number of benefits to eating seasonally.

1. Eating seasonally encourages diet diversity

When everything is available, all year round you can easily end up eating the same variety of fruits and veggies for 365 days. Eating a diverse range of plants has plenty of benefits for our health and changing your diet with the seasons is a simple way to mix up your intake. Research suggests eating 30 different plant foods each week is the goal for wellbeing benefits. It leads to a higher fibre intake which improves the health of the cells in our digestive tract and results in a more diverse gut microbiome. This is important since our gut microbiome plays a role in many aspects of our health including our mental health, digestion, immune system and skin.

2. Eating seasonally is more cost effective

Eating what's in season will save you some serious dollars at the checkout. You'll often find that seasonal produce is more affordable at your local grocery store or farmer's market as it is in peak supply and it hasn't been transported thousands of kilometres from overseas.

3. Eating seasonally tastes better

Ever chowed down on an out-of-season tomato? Then you'll know it can't compare to a perfectly ripe, red and juicy piece of produce. Seasonal produce is grown and sold in optimum conditions meaning its fresher when it gets to your kitchen bench.

4. Eating seasonally has a smaller environmental footprint

When you eat something that's not in season in your local region, that means it has been transported from another part of the world where it is in season. Eating ripe, locally sourced produce cuts down on the environmental impact of extensive transport and storage.

How can you eat seasonally for summer?

If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, warmer months are just around the corner and there's a whole bunch of amazing fruits and vegetables in season for summer. Here are a few things you'll see on shop shelves soon:

  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Chillies
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplants
  • Snow peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

How can you eat seasonally for winter?

If you reside in the Northern Hemisphere, here are some of the things you'll see on the shelves soon:

  • Banana
  • Beansprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwifruit
  • Lemons
  • Mandarins
  • Mushrooms
  • Navel oranges
  • Potato
  • Silverbeet
  • Spinach

While changing your diet with the seasons is by no means essential, there are certainly some major benefits to eating seasonally.

Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Explore more content like this in our series, Ask a Dietitian.

Health & Performance Collective is the brainchild of Sydney dietitians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod. They use their 20 years of combined knowledge and skills as dietitians to work with motivated people to live and perform at their best.

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