Theories That Explain Your Winter Food Cravings

Theories That Explain Your Winter Food Cravings

Why do people love to eat during winter?

A steaming hot bowl of ramen or soup is especially so irresistible. Could it be an extension of the holiday food coma? Since late fall and over the holidays, the delicious array of foods – roasted turkey, cookies, chili and cheesy pasta — being served are very tempting. Since all the yummy and fatty foods are all available during this time of the year, why not go ahead? Or could it be that the desire to eat is an animal instinct for survival during the cold winter?

Tis the time to get acquainted with the theories behind eating more food in winter. Be sure to keep an eye on the tips on how to get back on track to eating well.

It Could Be a Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you’re craving carbohydrates, such as pasta, pastries and cookies, it’s possible that you have a Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. According to research, when a person eats high-calorie and high fat foods, the brain creates a feeling of happiness. So, the tendency of people with SAD to eat during the long, cold nights is considered normal.

What is the best food to eat when affected by this seasonal depression? Experts recommend eating lean protein like salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help boost your mood and the protein can help you feel full. So, if you want to eat pasta and cheese, you can use whole grain pasta instead of regular pasta. Also, add to the dish some lean protein and vegetables for more fiber and vitamins.

If you’re craving for dessert, drinking hot dark chocolate is a perfect choice. Dark chocolate is a good mood booster and is good for the heart. It contributes to increasing the healthy cholesterol in your body, hence reducing the risk of heart disease. Also, researchers from the Yale University say that people who drink something warm or take a hot shower feel happier and not as lonely.

It Could Be Biological

Basic biology may be able to explain why people overeat during the cold months. Dr. Ira Ockene, a cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, conducted a study confirming that people have different food intake patterns depending on the season, and consequently different body weights. The participants in the study not only ate more calories per day in the fall than in spring, they also ate more total fat and saturated fat. To top that, they were least physically active during winter.

Another point that Dr. Ockene brought up is that people tend to eat more and faster with less light, which is the case during winter when days are shorter.

It Could Be the Tradition

Some researchers attribute the weight you gain during winter to tradition and the environment. During the holidays, there are plenty of opportunities to overeat sugary, fatty or high-caloric foods that are traditionally served. Partner that with the reduced physical activity in the winter months. So, it’s no wonder that many gain one or two pounds in winter and lose weight in spring.

There’s another research study at the Canadian University of Maryland that looked into the reason why there’s a tendency to overeat specific foods during the winter season. It is because of the emotional connection between you and the food. If Grandma bakes the Christmas cookies, they are more special and taste better, thus you indulge yourself in eating the treat.

What’s a good advice in this case then? No need to be guilty when splurging on your most-loved foods. But don’t forget to balance your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins generally speaking.

Photo credits:  Traditional Christmas Eve Supper in Poland by Przykuta. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Categories: Diet

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