Several factors contribute to unhealthy eating habits over the winter. However making healthy choices is easy when you know what can provide satisfaction (to the palette and the stomach). Craving sugar and salt is mostly initiated by lack of hydration, and generally missing out on good nutrition in the 3 meals (breakfast, lunch dinner).
This easy meal using fresh wild salmon is satisfying & mouth watering delicious. Needless to say it also checks all your nutrition boxes!
Several factors contribute to the tendency for some people to eat less healthy foods during the winter months:
- Comfort Food and Tradition: Winter is often associated with holidays and traditional celebrations that involve rich, indulgent foods. Comfort foods, which are often high in calories, carbohydrates, and fats, can provide a sense of warmth and satisfaction during cold weather.
- Seasonal Availability of Foods: In many cultures, winter is a time when certain types of fresh, locally grown produce may be less available. This can lead to an increased reliance on processed or comfort foods that are more readily accessible.
- Hibernation Instinct: Some people experience a natural instinct to consume more calories in colder months, a behavior that may have evolutionary roots. In the past, storing extra energy in the form of fat during winter could have been advantageous for survival in harsh conditions with less food availability.
- Reduced Physical Activity: Colder weather and shorter days can lead to a decrease in outdoor physical activities. With less exercise, the body may have a decreased need for certain nutrients and calories, leading to overconsumption of energy-dense but nutrient-poor foods.
- Mood and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Some individuals experience changes in mood during the winter months, a phenomenon known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This can lead to cravings for comfort foods, which are often high in sugars and fats and may temporarily improve mood.
- Social and Cultural Influences: Winter holidays and gatherings often involve socializing and sharing meals. These occasions may center around traditional, often high-calorie foods, contributing to unhealthy eating patterns.
- Less Exposure to Sunlight: Reduced exposure to sunlight during the winter months can affect serotonin levels, which may lead to cravings for carbohydrates and sugary foods. These cravings can be a way for the body to try to boost serotonin levels and improve mood.
- Hydration Challenges: In cold weather, people may be less inclined to drink water, leading to dehydration. The body can sometimes misinterpret thirst as hunger, leading to increased food intake, especially of calorie-dense snacks.
It’s important to note that these factors can vary among individuals, and not everyone experiences changes in eating habits during the winter. Additionally, making conscious choices to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet, staying physically active, and managing stress can help mitigate the tendency to consume unhealthy foods during colder months. Awareness and intentional efforts to prioritize healthy eating habits can contribute to overall well-being regardless of the season.