We have officially moved into deep winter, and staying on that that fitness path can be tough. One particularly tricky business can be to curb those winter cravings, and if it feels hard, it might be because your body is working against you. From primal instincts to hormones and social behaviour, this is a time when your body wants to indulge. So how do you control it?
Why do we want to eat more in winter?
If you feel like you’re always hungry during the winter months, that’s because your body really is going through some changes. One theory is that we crave more fatty foods during winter as a survival instinct, storing reserves for potential shortages. Other studies suggest that during winter our body produces more hormones that make us hungrier, and we tend to want comfort food in particular.
So what can you do to counter the cravings?
A lack of sleep can increase your appetite so make sure you’re getting enough rest during the winter months. With longer nights and shorter days it is normal to sleep a bit longer than you would in summer. Aim for around 8 hours per night.
With cold weather we’re less likely to sip on a cooling drink of water. But dehydration can easily be mistaken for hunger, which can cause snacking or binging. Try switching to warm water with lemon or caffeine-free tea to stay hydrated.
Make smart food choices
If you make smart choices, you can satisfy those cravings without piling on extra pounds.
Start your day with warm oats. You can even spice them up with some cinnamon and baked apple – it will taste like apple pie for breakfast! Oats are packed with immune boosting zinc and gut-loving fibre. Opt for steel cut or rolled oats to make it even more nutritious, and throw in a spoonful of almond butter for added protein and healthy fats.
Bone Broth is another fantastic winter treat. It aids digestion and boosts immunity, and it will warm your belly right up! You can also try fermented foods like Kimchi or Sauerkraut, which are packed with probiotics for a healthy gut.
In general, aim to eat real food. Diets where you restrict calories can cause a spike in stress hormones like cortisol, which can actually cause weight gain. Go for fibre-rich whole grains, beans and pulses, and good fats.