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Why do we eat more in winter than summer?

Posted by on 26 April 2015 | 2 Comments

Why is it that in summer we can live off salads and light meals but in winter we can’t get our hand on enough food?

During winter we have less daylight. Your pineal gland responds to lack of light by producing melatonin, the sleep hormone, which makes you feel sleepy and ready to rest. When you feel sleepy you lack energy and motivation and therefore your activity levels may decrease.  You may feel the cold more and because the act of metabolising food generates heat, your body will naturally crave carbohydrate rich foods to keep warm. The higher level of melatonin also increases appetite.

Some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter months which is a mild type of depression and can cause feelings of sadness and lethargy. Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, winter can affect your mood and you may find yourself consuming simple carbohydrates to feel better. These foods will produce the hormone serotonin which will make you feel happy but not for long as these foods cause your blood sugar to spike rapidly and then drop quickly, much like a rollercoaster.

So if your mood plays a big role on why you may eat more in winter, how can you avoid this?

Continue to exercise. Exercise stimulates endorphin production, which helps relieve stress and makes you feel good for many hours after. You will have more energy throughout the day and your metabolism will stay elevated helping you to maintain your weight.

Consume Omega 3. It has many health benefits but Omega 3 is vital for brain health and development. Supplementing with Omega 3 has its health benefits however ensuring you obtain Omega 3 through your diet should be a priority for long-term health. Omega 3rich foods include oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines), chia seeds, hempseed oil, flaxseeds and walnuts. There are also small amounts in dark green leafy vegetables.

Avoid refined and processed foods. Processed foods like white breads, rice, and sugar not only lack the nutrients your body craves, but they zap your energy levels and can affect your mood. Consuming more complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat breads, brown rice, vegetables and fruit will provide your body and mind with nutrients and stabilise your blood sugar and your energy levels. 

Keep up your water intake. Our bodies are 60 – 70% water and we use water every time we move, eat, breath and go to the toilet. Maintaining hydration is vital for the proper functioning of the body and is important all year round. If you don’t consume enough fluid you will become dehydrated which amongst other things can cause fatigue.  If you aren’t a huge water drinker and feel like drinking something warm during the colder months you could try herbal teas (decaf), hot water with lemon and honey or even soup.

It’s a challenge but by staying active and really watching your food intake you can avoid the extra kilo’s we tend to put on over the chilly winter months!

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  • Great resource. Also remember that you can get your Omega 3 from microalgae sources (which are ideal for vegans).

    Posted by Jane, 08/11/2016 10:14pm (1 year ago)

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    Posted by fgyhvf vre, 20/09/2016 9:19am (1 year ago)

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