When days begin to get shorter, and temperatures start to drop, our food cravings change. During the summer, we crave lighter, more hydrating foods to keep us cool. Typically, summer cravings include smoothies, salads, and cold soups. But in cooler seasons, like fall and winter, our bodies start to crave dense warm foods to keep us warm. Usually, you start to crave lots of warm soups, stews, and casseroles.
During cooler seasons people tend to stay inside and keep away from the sun. This increases the sleep hormone, melatonin, which causes the body to be sleepy and lethargic. There’s no motivation to get some much-needed daylight, which causes the body to crave comfort foods and increase your appetite.
Eating more food helps generate more heat because your body is metabolizing the food and extra weight keeps you insulated. Your body not only wants comfort foods to keep you warm but also because it makes you feel better. Comfort foods release the feel-good hormone, serotonin, which keeps making you go back for more food because the feeling does not last long.
The opposite happens during spring and summer. The warmer temperatures encourage you to get out more which means more sunlight and feeling less drowsy. As your body gets moving more you start to crave lighter foods and more hydration so you stay cool and maybe lose some pounds gained during fall and winter.
Luckily, there are a few solutions to keep you from going towards comfort foods in the winter. First, try to get as much sunlight as you can. Fall and winter mean shorter days, so you might have to get up earlier, but it will keep your body from producing too much melatonin. Lower melatonin levels mean you will be more willing to get up and be active. The more active you are the less likely you will want to reach for heavier foods.
A proper exercise plan and a diet rich in fall and winter produce like winter squash, sweet potatoes and kale will also keep you from craving comfort foods. This is because you are nourishing your body with what it actually wants. Exercise, just like comfort foods, also releases serotonin which makes you feel better. The amazing thing about exercise is that it also releases endorphins which help alleviate stress. Getting both serotonin and endorphins is a powerhouse to keeping you healthy.
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