The Truth About Winter's Effect on Your Appetite
Including easy ways to combat winter weight gain.
If your desire for comfort food goes up when the temperature goes down, you're not alone.
Experts confirm that winter weather is known to steer our appetites away from the fruits and veggies we're so fond of in the summertime and towards warm, cheesy casseroles and high-carb snacks.
"As soon as temperatures drop, our appetite goes up for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods—stews, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese—the dishes that make us feel warm and cozy," Barrie Wolf-Radbille, MS, RD, a nutritionist with the New York University Program for Surgical Weight Loss, told WebMD.
There are a few things at work here, including the evolutionary holdover scientists refer to as "self-preservation mode."
Kristin Herlocker MS, RD, a nutrition expert with Diabetes Centers of America in Houston, explained to WebMD that cold weather triggers a self-preservation mode, which bascially tells your body it needs to heat up fast. In turn, we experience cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods like sugars and starches—the ones that provide the boost of heat your body needs.
And then there's the fact that people tend to spend more time at home during the winter, which, according to Wolf-Radbille, can cause them to overeat. A 2005 study found that people's daily calorie intake was 86 calories higher during the fall than in the spring.
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To combat winter weight gain, nutritionists recommend soaking up as much sunlight as possible and finding low-calorie alternatives to your favorite indulgences. For instance, consider using cauliflower crust in your pizza, or low-fat cheese in your mac and cheese. Trust us: Your swimsuit will thank you come June.