It can be very easy to overeat during the winter period, and studies do suggest that gaining a little unintended weight can easily be done during this time. This will mean different things to different people, and depends on what your individual dietary requirements and goals are.
But why are winter munchies a thing, and what can we do to avoid overindulging?
Why Do We Eat More During the Winter?
The onset of a cold and chilly winter curates a natural response within the human body that pushes it into survival mode. Long before things like wall insulation, supermarkets and indoor central heating came into use, the bite of the winter could prove to be deadly, and part of the body’s survival mode process is to make itself crave really rich foods, like carbohydrates, fats and sugars to survive.
Building reserves and storing calories is then very much an instinctive thing to do, and many animals still carry out this process each year before they go away to hibernate. Food also provides a valuable source of warmth and energy, when the frosty season around us is anything but.
But when this primitive instinct is met with a modern culture that shapes how we view eating habits during the winter time, excessing eating patterns can easily emerge. From an early age, we’re subconsciously taught to enjoy all the rich and savoury foods that come with winter, and to consume them at large.
A glance into any supermarket around this time of year will be greeted with an onslaught of tempting sale signs and shop displays that make these calorific delights appear all the more enticing.
The exclusivity of some of these delights adds a great deal to how much we consume of them. Take for example a succulent slice of Christmas cake, coated comfortably with a generous layer of marzipan and gleaming white icing. A mere 60-gram serving will come with nearly 220 calories, and that’s only if you say no to the brandy cream!
But as much as it can be down to tradition and culture, overeating during the winter can also be a result of the psychological impact of the season. Also known as ‘winter depression’, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression experienced when the seasons change.
Its symptoms are commonly more prominent during the darker, colder autumn and winter months, and although it’s known to wreak absolute havoc for your sleep, studies have observed a strong correlation between the presence of SAD and seasonal overeating.
Depression in general is going to hold its own ties with overeating which it will encounter as a coping mechanism, but when its onset is matched by the aforementioned strong gastronomy culture that consumes this time of year, daily appetites can quickly develop into unhealthy habits.
What’s more, the problem is only made worse by the fact that although we may be eating more during the winter, we’re also moving a lot less than usual. Once popular outdoor activities, like football, jogging and cycling, are nipped by the chilly breeze, and hampered by the early arrival of darkness.
There’s also more lounging about in the winter, as our lifeline to the warm indoors reduces fat-burning movements to a minimum. Being kept inside with endless food options at your fingertips then only exacerbates the issue.
So then what can we do to ensure that we celebrate Christmas in style whilst staying true to our
Appetite Control During Winter
To make the most of the seasonal festivities, without feeling dreaded regret come January, we’ve compiled our own top tips to avoid overeating and excess this Christmas:
When the air begins to turn cold as it usually does this time of year, the body’s drop in temperature arouses the urge to eat. And as a response to this, it can be almost too easy to quell your appetite for warmth and food by turning to a sugary snack.
The only problem with this plentiful solution is that it will cause your blood sugar to shoot up, before dropping down again; leaving you colder and hungrier than before. As high-sugar foods form the basis of festive menus, indulging in this cycle can easily encounter an excess intake of calories, whilst the unsatisfiable nature of a sugar-laden diet causes it to swing into a downwards spiral.
Of course, it would be silly for us to say “never eat sugar again”, but we think a more practical and worthwhile approach to this is to recommend sugar in moderation.
Of course, during Christmas it’s only natural to want to try all the yummy dishes you can, but try to practice portion control as often as possible. Smaller portions will allow you to enjoy the taste without reaching an excessive calorie count.
One really handy way to know how much is right is to check out the packaging. Nearly everything will come with a recommended intake, and using smaller plates is a really popular tool to tricking your mind into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are.
As we mentioned a little bit before, the season’s early arrival of darkness can be really limiting to a once vigorous exercise routine. Which is why during winter, you’ll need to start exploring all the options outside of the box without leaving the comfort of the four walls of your home.
Luckily, we recently published our ultimate guide to working out from home, which covers a variety of dynamic exercises and activities that are perfect for helping you keep to your schedule during the winter. And never feel the roof’s the limit. There’s a diverse range of helpers that are dying to raise your results, including core sliders, resistance bands and pilates bars.
And although they already appear as the dream solution to mixing up your home workout routine, these recommendations also double up as ideal Christmas stocking fillers; if ticking off your list of gifts to buy is currently on your mind.
Wine to Water
Honestly, if you’re looking to lose or better regulate your weight, the one thing we always stick to is hydration hydration hydration! Apart from its remarkable power to remove the toxins from the body, drinking water has been shown to assist the body with the task of shedding fat.
This is because without enough water, the body will struggle to perform lipolysis, a special task whereby the body metabolises these stored fats and carbohydrates; and ample hydration is especially important if your weight management programme features a lot of working out.
So this year, we’d like to suggest switching the wine for water, and getting your hands on one of these collapsable water bottles to ensure that you stay hydrated all festive season long.
Sticking to your calorie budget is a lot easier when a selective hand guides your way. It is possible to enjoy all your favourite treats, but try to sway yourself towards just the ones you love; it’s the fabled toffee penny for us!
Being exclusive in this way, whilst choosing the quality over the quantity, will help you dodge excessive calorie-heavy eating habits. Avoid stockpiling your guilty pleasures in the kitchen cupboard, and try to opt instead for the healthier side of indulgence.
Now we would hate to suggest that adhering to these recommendations should be an around the clock, 24/7 operation, but if you’re able to at least keep the thought of what your general daily intake is somewhere on the back burner, you’ll still be making those small but progressive steps forward to your goals.
For more tips to stay healthy, as well as to discover the equipment we use ourselves, please feel free to head on over to our entire SMUG Active collection here: theboobuddy.com/collections/smug-active