Eating seasonally has been a popular concept for a long time, but did you know that eating seasonally can help IBS symptoms too? In this article I’d like to champion the case for eating seasonally where possible and tell you about some of the benefits of eating this way.
Seasonal eating centres around the idea that we should try to mainly eat fruit and vegetable produce that’s in season at that particular time of the year in our own country.
Now the operative word here is try because I’ve never been an advocate of over-restricting food. It’s also a bit unreasonable to assume that everything we base our diets around will be something that’s grown in our own country.
So what is it about seasonal eating that’s so beneficial and why am I saying that eating seasonally can help IBS?
One of the main reasons that eating seasonally is popular is due to the fact that it’s better for the environment because the produce that’s grown in our own country hasn’t been transported for thousands of miles to get to us. As a result, it has a much lower carbon footprint.
Avocados, for example, have a huge carbon footprint because they’re predominantly grown in Central and South America. That’s a very long distance for it to reach your plate!
Also, due to the popularity of avocados in recent years, it’s led to them being grown as cash crops which means that local farmers cut down massive areas of land to create new plantations. This deforestation contributes to climate change and increases the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.
However, the fact that the produce comes from so far away means the produce is kept in transit for a long time, so how do they prevent it rotting before it reaches our shop shelves?
In order for a lot of this produce to reach our shores without rotting it’s often sprayed with preservatives and other chemicals to keep it ‘fresh’.
Another aspect of preventing it rotting is that the produce is often harvested a long time before it’s fully ripe. This means that it can be stored for a long, long time before reaching our supermarket shelves. For instance, apples are often harvested and then kept in storage for up to 12 months in advance before being put out for sale!
As a dietitian, my main problem with this method of harvesting from other countries is that the nutritional value of any produce begins to decline after it has been picked. Therefore, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the same health benefits from eating produce from abroad as you would if it came from a farm in Britain.
I’d also like to strongly make the case for eating seasonally due to the matter of how it tastes!
If you’ve ever grown your own tomatoes in the summertime you’ll know that there are few taste explosions better than eating a fresh ripe tomato plucked straight from the vine. It has a natural sweetness that’s simply unparalleled.
The same goes for homegrown carrots. That’s why many local farm shops now sell locally grown ‘dirty’ carrots. Even something as simple as the humble turnip or swede tastes infinitely better when it’s grown in this country as opposed to being transported over a long period of time from abroad.
This taste difference comes down to the fact that the produce isn’t being stored for ages. It’s not been shipped for ages. And its taste and nutritional content isn’t being diminished over time.
But there’s another very important reason why it could benefit you to eat more seasonally and that’s the cost of the produce.
Any food that’s imported into our country has to be picked, sorted, wrapped and transported and that comes at a cost to us, the consumer. Food producers know it’s not cheap to import these goods, so that cost gets added onto the prices we pay for their products.
Food that’s grown in our own country seasonally is significantly lower priced because it’s not having to jump through as many hoops to reach the consumer.
For example, at the time of writing this article a pack of 6 Pink Lady apples imported from abroad costs £2.80 in Sainsbury’s. A pack of 6 Braeburn apples grown in the UK for sale in the same shop costs £1.20. Isn’t that incredible?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Pink Lady apples as much as the next person, but knowing how far they’ve travelled and how long they’ve probably been in storage throughout that process I’d be happier to stick to the homegrown Braeburns. (My bank balance will be happier for it too!)
However, you’re probably wondering by this point how eating seasonally can help IBS. Well, it can help your IBS because of the simple fact that a huge majority of the food we grow in season within the UK is low FODMAP!
Low FODMAP seasonal food
I’m a big believer in eating seasonally because our ancestors did too. In the past the people who came before us ate a much less processed diet that was based around the produce which was in season at any given time of the year.
As a result, the food was freshly harvested and went quickly from farm to shop to table. Or in a lot of cases it went from garden to kitchen to table. This meant that the food was eaten at its best nutritionally.
Now, I realise that in today’s modern world many of us are too busy to consider the hassle of preparing every aspect of our meals from start to finish, but we can make the choice to predominantly cook and eat seasonal produce where possible.
It also helps that a huge majority of seasonal produce is low FODMAP! Let me show you the abundance of fruit and veg that’s low FODMAP during our seasons. (Also, bear in mind that although you might be sensitive to a certain FODMAP group others may not be.)
Fruit: Granny Smith Apples, Pears, Rhubarb.
Vegetables: Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Chillies, Cucumber, Elderflowers, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Marrow, Morel Mushrooms, Mushrooms, New Potatoes, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radishes, Rocket, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Squash, Swedes, Turnips, Watercress.
Fruit: Blackberries, Blueberries, Blackcurrants, Cherries, Gooseberries, Greengages, Loganberries, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tayberries.
Vegetables: Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chicory, Chillies, Courgettes, Cucumber, Elderflowers, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mangetout, Marrow, Mushrooms, Parsnips, New Potatoes, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Sweetcorn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress.
Fruit: Apples, Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Cherries, Damsons, Elderberries, Greengages, Loganberries, Pears, Plums, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Rhubarb, Strawberries.
Vegetables: Aubergine, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chestnuts, Chicory, Chillies, Courgette, Cucumber, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Marrow, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rocket, Runner Beans, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Swede, Sweetcorn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress, Wild Mushrooms, Winter Squash.
Fruit: Apples, Cranberries, Elderberries, Pears.
Vegetables: Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chestnuts, Chicory, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Red Cabbage, Swede, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Watercress, Wild Mushrooms, Winter Squash.
So, as you can see, there is loads of low FODMAP seasonal produce that you can use to make soups, salads, main meals and sides with and that’s exactly why eating seasonally can help IBS.
Have fun and experiment with different fruits and vegetables in each season!