During the wintertime, we tend to eat more and don’t always choose the healthiest selections. If your eating habits start to decline, you can make some positive changes and make better choices. People tend to eat more during winter, according to research. Also, there are a few variables that might contribute to our heightened appetite.
Why Our Eating Habits Change During Colder Months
Winter, most people agree, is the season for substantial, rich meals. The cold-weather diet consists of heavy, carb-laden foods, sweet desserts, and creamy sauces. However, most people also say they are hungrier in the winter, with higher cravings and a strong desire to snack. Is it just our imaginations, or is there a reason why we desire to eat more in the winter? More so, what can we do to avoid overindulging?
From late fall through early spring, we’re more inclined to snuggle down with mugs of hot cocoa and hot creamy pasta, but that doesn’t mean we should. Even so, our eating choices can have an impact on our weight but also our mood. Then, when the warmer weather starts to return, we panic and often choose unhealthy eating habits to lose weight.
Of course, the pandemic didn’t help our eating habits either. Many of us began stress eating, which caused weight gain. Additionally, it also brought many changes to our lifestyles and eating patterns as well. But the good news is you can make changes to your diet and start eating healthier even during the cold winter months.
Why Do We Feel Hungrier And Eat More In Winter?
For those of us living in the United States, winter is upon up and every day colder and darker. But why do these changes in the weather have an impact on the meals we crave? It seems we all seek comfort foods high in fat and carbs. It’s almost as if our bodies demand it! Some theories claim this is due to an adaptive remnant to bulk up to endure extreme climate changes.
Studies also show we consume an extra 86 calories per day in the fall than in the spring. Additionally, folks eat more fatty saturated foods in the winter months as well. However, the researchers who conducted the study highlighted that the amount of “extra” calories consumed over a year was quite tiny.
Further research shows that weather shifts affect the balance of human hormones that regulate hunger and cravings. According to a previous analysis of evidence in people and animals, seasonal changes influence various hormones associated with hunger and appetite, including ghrelin, glucocorticoids, and leptin.
More so, take notice of how much hungrier you feel during the winter months. It’s as if our bodies crave these foods innately. However, some studies show how hormones that control hunger and appetite can also influence our eating habits.
Studies Show Rich Food Does Have Culture Links
Even though we enjoy eating rich meals during winter, you can find and enjoy healthy recipes that are extremely delicious. And meals that satisfy our cravings even during cold weather. There’s enough evidence that shows how our increased food cravings in the winter link to a psychological component as well.
Since infancy, we identify winter with heavy, rich meals known as comfort food. And we gravitate towards them without much thought. But, if you dine out, do you ever order a salad and chicken in the winter? If you do, kudos! Most of us tend to eat foods like creamy pasta dishes covered in cheese!
Furthermore, winter brings with it the holidays. And this is where we feast on comfort foods the most. So all of our eating habits change during the holidays, and then we crash diet afterward. During this time, we reach for these fatty food choices and excuse away all rational reasons to eat healthier.
Our Eating Habits And Biological Needs
As a result, our biological need to binge eat occurs during the first sign of cold weather. It’s a relic of an old-times when our bodies sought to store as many calories and fat as possible to help us survive in times of scarcity. And this is similar to how wild animals store fat in preparation for hibernation.
It also answers why we seek high-carbohydrate, high-sugar, and fatty foods: our systems attempt to store adequate remainders to ensure self-preservation. As a result, societal expectations and customs increase the desire to eat more during the winter. And, of course, deep-seated psychological connections.
Another thing to keep in mind is that eating calories and storing fat helps warm up our bodies. And since you’re providing energy to your body, it helps keep us warm. Because the harsh cold lowers your body heat, you may feel compelled to eat more.
Staying Inactive Indoors Causes Us To Eat More
Of course, during the colder months, we tend to go outdoors less. Therefore, we exercise less and end up in front of our computers and TVs. Doing so leads to us snacking incessantly out of boredom as well. Furthermore, activities like these program us to eat more snack foods and consume more calories.
Many experts claim that winter weight gain is due to increased eating and decreased physical activity. Yet, plenty of us never really manage to shed that additional pounds. And this means that after a year or so, the extra pounds add up. That’s why joining the gym is the best way to stay active regardless of your age.
How The Winter Blues Affects Our Eating Habits
The winter months can cause seasonal depression or also known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). But, of course, shorter days and longer nights don’t help either. However, taking vitamin D all year long can help. And it’s a good idea to have your levels checked by your medical provider.
Moreover, this specific issue happens in the United Kingdom and other Scandinavian countries, where sunlight is scarce in the winter. As a result, you might have decreased amounts of serotonin, a chemical in our bodies connected to sensations of joy and well-being. And this is why sunshine exposure is critical, especially during the winter months.
Each of these impairments can cause a case of SAD. Typically, people with SAD seek out additional carbs as well. And this can be because they boost the immune system by utilizing tryptophan, an amino acid that can turn into serotonin into rising declining concentrations in the body.
Yet, for the reaction to operate, you must consume a sufficient amount of tryptophan-rich meals, including green vegetables, chicken, fish, and broccoli. And avoid eating processed carbohydrates that you have no space for such healthy alternatives. So, as you can see, our eating habits and our moods work hand in hand.
Change Your Eating Habits In The Winter With These Foods
The good news is you can help change your eating habits during the winter months. You can start by taking one day at a time by implementing some changes to your diet. First, don’t reach for fatty snack foods when watching TV. Instead, go for a healthier option with wiser choices like these Smart Cookies Low Carb Keto Brain Food Protein Snacks (#ad). Shoppers love them and gave them 5-star reviews.
Additionally, try out some of the recommendations below to help you eat healthier every day!
Citrus Fruits in Winter
Whereas most fresh fruit has been in limited supply throughout the winter, citrus is at its peak. Plus, you’ll find many shops that have a cache of mandarin oranges on hand for snacking. And a salad containing citrus and wintry vegetables like Swiss chard or kale is delicious.
Hot Soup During Winter
You can put almost everything into a soup pot like greens, soybeans, chickpeas, nutritious grains, and vegetables that would otherwise decay in your freezer compartment. And it’s a terrific way to include more fiber-rich foods into your winter regimen. Then, you’re ready to go with a high-quality protein like poultry or prawns. Finally, you can enjoy soup as dinner or maybe even a healthy snack. To avoid bad calories and cholesterol, go for a broth-based soup rather than a creamy- thick soup.
Eat More Greens
When the weather becomes chilly, aromatic veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are a great option. “They’re healthy and fantastic for cooking,” experts explain. “Toss them in the microwave with just a little oil and a sprinkle of salt until they turn golden brow.
Fishes, Mainly Salmon
Vitamin D is indeed a substance that scientists agree is essential in the winter. However, because of fewer sunlight hours, a shift in the intensity of the sun’s radiation, and much less time outside, many of us are not collecting as much vitamin D as we would in hotter seasons.
Being indoors for social isolation during rough winter might cause vitamin D levels to plummet even worse. As per research published in Frontiers in Physiology, the best sources of vitamin D are oily fish, such as salmon. And salmon is high in saturated fats, another mood enhancer, and enriched milk-based products.
If you’re craving a plate of noodles and yogurt, for example, swap out the usual fortified pasta for a whole-grain option and add lots of protein to the combination, including some leafy greens for nutrients and fiber.
In closing, you can start implementing positive changes during the harsh winter months with some changes to your eating habits. And keep the changes going all year round too!
It can be challenging to maintain your health during the winter months. We have 4 winter health tips you’ll want to consider that you might not have thought about. We still have several weeks left of winter weather here on the East Coast, so there’s no time like now to get started having a healthier winter!
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