Oh, Winter… our favorite season to eat, wear Snuggies, drink lattes from Starbucks, and start New Year’s weight loss resolutions that we have a 92% chance of failing.
It is a widely accepted thought process in our society that during the winter months, weight gain is inevitable. Between the sugary sweets and carb loaded comfort food, oh – and not to mention the freezing temperatures that prevent us from being outside, how could we not pack on a few extra pounds? I mean after all, aren’t our bodies genetically and biologically predisposed, thanks to our hunter gatherer ancestors, to packing on extra fat for the winter?
Though there are various scientific theories and hypotheses out there to suggest the genetic and biological connection, there still seems to be no definitive proof. So instead of blaming our ancestors, let's take a look at three reasons why you could be gaining weight this winter:
1. Melatonin increase.
Melatonin is the hormone that tells your body it’s time to go to sleep and is triggered by darkness. According to Dr. Perry Barrett of Aberdeen University, “In spring and summer, levels of melatonin decline, but in autumn and winter levels of melatonin increase. This hormone acts on appetite.” What do we do when we are sleepy but can’t go to bed? Well, for some of us, we eat.
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Image credit: http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/conditions-diseases/the-surprising-reason-youre-always-tired-124243[/caption]
Be vigilant. Eat your healthy dinners, and if you must
snack into the evening, at least eat healthier items like popcorn and nuts.
2. You're feeling S.A.D.
You've heard the term Winter Blues? Well, it's a real thing, Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). According to the American Psychiatric Association, symptoms of S.A.D. start showing up in the Fall and include: fatigue, craving food high in carbs, social withdraw, weight gain, and lack of interest in normal activities. The kicker, it primarily affects women.
: Soak up the sun light as much as you can. If you work from home, arrange your desk so it faces a window with natural light. If that still doesn't help, a special therapy called Phototherapy (light therapy) may help too. It's important to contact a trained medical professional if you think you have this condition.
3. Vitamin D decrease.
Sunlight is not only a major source for Vitamin D, it's also the best. Unfortunately, during the winter there is less sunlight and colder temperatures that prevent us from being outside. But what does Vitamin D have to do with weight gain? "It appears that lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage — so calories you consume are stored in adipose (fat) cells rather than being used for energy," says Dr Stephanie Dillon, senior lecturer in Nutrition at the University of Central Lancashire.
Eat foods high in Vitamin D like Salmon, Tuna, Eggs, Liver, and Cheese. Also try and spend at least 20 minutes outside leaving your forearms exposed, if the cold weather permits.