Studies have shown that people eat more during winter months, and many people have reported to being hungrier in winter and having strong sugary, energy-dense cravings. Eat more of food that is high in healthy fat, protein and carbohydrates as this food takes longer to digest thus raising the body temperature and proving the feeling of warmth.
There are factors that contribute to the body’s increased need for food in cold weather.
- Eating makes us warmer; cold weather causes our body temperature to drop, hence we feel the urge to eat We need to take care, however, not to indulge in high-fat, high sugar foods which may cause a spike in our blood sugar levels which is followed by a dip leaving you hungrier and colder than before, causing a repeat of the cycle which may contribute to excessive calorie intake leading to weight gain.
- More time spent indoors; shorter days and longer nights mean more time spent indoors, which may result in our bodies lacking vitamin D (an essential vitamin in metabolism of calcium for healthy bones and teeth) which obtained from sunlight. To avoid this deficiency affecting us we need to eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin D (tuna fish, cheese, beef liver, milk, fortified cereals, and egg yolks). More time spent indoors means less time spent doing physical activities and often means skipping workouts and opting for lounging in front of the television or This makes us to snack endlessly because of boredom and generally because we are conditioned to eat while watching a film, resulting in excessive winter weight gain.
To avoid being a victim of winter weight gain:
- Fill up on healthy soups, stews, protein-rich and fibre-rich foods to prolong the feeling of satiety and avoid binge-eating.
- Try finding healthier versions of your favorite snacks, peanuts instead of corn
- Snack regularly throughout the day on healthy snacks to keep your metabolism burning (providing a feeling of warmth) and to help avoid high fat and sugary
- Try get some sun during the day to top up your vitamin D
- Do not lose your exercise routine as it acts as a mood booster and keeps those extra calories off.
Foods to be on the lookout for in winter:
- Bananas: provide vitamin B and magnesium, which is important for proper functioning of the thyroid and adrenal glands that help regulate body
- Hot ginger tea: provides feeling of warmth inside on cold days, and is also good for digestive health and stimulating thermogenesis (the process whereby the body produces heat caused by food metabolism).
- Hot high-fibre breakfast: Oats being highly recommended as it is a good source of whole grains and fibre which improves your cholesterol and keeps you full and warm for a longer
- Red meat: beef, lamb and pork are good sources of iron required to help carry oxygen throughout the body, lack of iron may result in cold hands and feet or feeling of exhaustion.
- Root vegetables: sweet potatoes and other root vegetables require more energy to move through the digestive system, which raises your body
- Butternut: contains antioxidants vitamin C and potassium which gives your immune system the necessary boost it needs this
- Water: keeps your body functioning at its best as it regulates your body temperature and helps avoid dehydration which may cause your internal temperature to
- Avoid alcohol; alcohol consumption lowers the body’s core temperature and also impairs the body’s ability to shiver (which is the natural response to raise your body temperature).
NB: eating hot/warm meals in winter is the best way to keeping warm.