There’s just something about the comfort that food brings us in winter. If you find it hard to resist the munchies on a cold night, you’re not alone. But why do we tend to eat more in colder temperatures? Many experts believe it’s a biological human behaviour, so it may just be inevitable.There are plenty of healthy hacks to keep your good eating habits in check – here are just a few winter eating watch outs:
If your carb cravings are getting a little out of control (pasta, pastries and that whole packet of biscuits) you could be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD, also known as winter depression, is a mood disorder that affects people with normal mental health at particular times of the year. It is especially evident in the cooler months due to the reduction of sunlight, and subsequent drop in serotonin – a brain chemical that affects mood.
The Fix: It’s totally okay to give in to the occasional craving, but if you find it’s happening all the time, give it a healthy makeover so you can indulge without blowing your calorie budget. Take a break from bread or wraps and switch to other wholegrains like brown rice ad quinoa salads. Experiment with zucchini noodles instead of pasta to up your veggie intake, or swap the crisps for wholegrain crackers and hummus. The key is combine a lean source of protein with quality carbs to help stabilise blood sugar levels and keep cravings at bay.
Overeating in winter may be a primitive impulse to stockpile for the cold, harsh months ahead. On top of that we tend to develop a lower level of happiness, which we get when it’s cold, wet and dark. As a result we lean towards ‘comfort foods’ by a desire to cheer ourselves up. This, coupled with a decrease in physical activity, explains why the numbers on the scale head north.
The Fix: Avoid portion distortion. Serve up a smaller size and wait 20 minutes before going back for seconds – it often takes a little while for your stomach to signal to your brain that you are full. When a snack attack strikes, pull out a plate and serve your snacks. This way you can visualise how much you are eating, rather than eating straight from a packet where you’re likely to scoff the entire bag.
Settling in on the couch with a bag of popcorn may be a far cosier option than heading out for a brisk walk, but letting your exercise habits take a back seat will have an effect on both your mental and physical health, and no doubt your mid-drift.
The Fix: Have a back up plan. Find an indoor class you like or download a home circuit on your phone or tablet. Use resistance band exercises or jump rope to mix things up. Regular exercise ensures the endorphins keep flowing which elevates your mood, reduces stress, improves sleep and boosts self-esteem. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate activity most days to prevent the winter blues.