Feel Hungrier In Winters? It Could Be Your Hormones!Luke Coutinho
An increase in appetite as winter draws near can be attributed to your hormones.
Image courtesy: Freepik
We want you to reflect on this – Do you feel hungrier in winters? Do you experience a surge in your appetite and cravings? If yes, stay with us for some time and understand the meaning behind this.
As winter season draws in, we all start feeling hungrier, no matter what we do. These food cravings are too intense and make us fall for a big plate of flavorful winter delicacies. We know it is too tempting to resist but we also know that you want to look your best before the start of the new year without upsetting your lifestyle due to this indulgence.
So, let us understand what triggers our appetite hormones in the winter months.
Hunger hormones, sleep quality, and appetite connection
Leptin is a hormone that decreases your appetite. It is also called the satiety hormone. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is a hormone that makes you hungry. It is also called the feeding hormone. When we eat, these hormones transmit messages to various parts of our body and to the hypothalamus in the brain to tell us that we are full and satiated. These hormones are controlled by various activities, out of which the primary one is related to sleep quality in the winter months.
The late-rising sun in this season leads to lengthier periods of nocturnal hours, which results in higher production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin needs you to sleep well enough to feel rested. Sleeping well helps avoid any imbalance in hunger hormones that sleep deprivation or inadequate sleep coupled with higher melatonin production brings.
This variance gives mixed signals to our brain resulting in low levels of the satiety hormone (leptin) and elevation of the hunger hormone (ghrelin) causing you to tuck in more food than usual.
Longer nights and smaller days, mood and appetite connection
During winters, we have less exposure to sunlight which affects the release of our mood hormone, serotonin. A shortage of serotonin makes us feel vulnerable and crave foods high on carbohydrates to make up for low serotonin levels. Low daylight not only affects our body’s biological clock but also elevates winter blues if coupled with less physical activity as we stay cozy in our blanket and have lesser outdoor exposure.
This can eventually result in seasonal depression (SAD) for some people. In this case, serotonin levels fall deep down. All of these changes in our body lead to our hormones, serotonin seeking more comfort, which happens to be sources like energy-dense foods or high carbohydrate food, thus pushing our appetite to spike up.
A deficiency in serotonin makes us crave more serotonin-producing foods. For instance, carbohydrate-rich foods.
Image courtesy: Freepik
Cold inside-out, energy, and appetite connection
Our body’s temperature goes hand-in-hand with the appetite hormones and the energy needs of our body.
Because of the dip in the body’s temperature in winter, there is an added need to generate more energy to keep the body warm. The low temperature outside indicates to our body that there aren’t enough nutrients in there. Consuming energy-dense foods provides us with more energy by instant sugar spike and helps relax the feeding center of the brain.
If you can relate to any of these stated above, you can note these few simple lifestyle changes to reduce the disparity in your hormone levels in cold weather.
- Practice mindful eating – Your satiety hormone takes twenty minutes to signal that you are full, and hence rushed eating or eating with distraction will make you easily overindulge.
- Make healthful swaps – Choose healthier alternatives like a homemade sweet with coconut sugar or jaggery or a warm cup of raw cacao smoothie with almond milk instead of one made with refined sugar.
- Boost serotonin hormone – Include fruits, nuts, seeds, raw cacao, whole grains, good quality eggs in your nutritional plan coupled with adequate physical activity.
- Winter greens – Winter is the season to pick up a few fresh vegetables. Add cruciferous veggies like cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. These sulfur-containing vegetables help in maintaining hormonal balance naturally.
- Citrus friends – You can pick up all the freshly available fruits and vegetables this season like oranges, amla, bell peppers, strawberries, brussel sprouts. They are rich sources of Vitamin C that help increase absorption of iron from the food we eat, and this can help stabilize appetite and boost immunity.
- Proteins – Prefer foods high in proteins like pulses, nuts, seeds, and whole eggs. They are called the building blocks of the body. They help control appetite by boosting satiety hormones.
- Sunlight – Expose yourself to the sunlight even though it is for a few minutes in the day
- Sleep well – Align your sleep time with your biological clock. Avoid exposing yourself to screens emitting light before your bedtime. When you wake up from your deep sleep, you can switch on your light therapy lamps. These provide natural lighting like sunlight which is beneficial in the winter months.
- Hydration – You may not feel very thirsty in winter however, the body needs water for every function. Staying well-hydrated will also curb your appetite.
- Focus on breathing – Right nostril breathing will help boost your energy levels whenever you are lethargic and low.
- Divert your mind – Apart from falling for comfort foods, seek other ways to feel cheerful. You can invest time in hobbies, music, or planning an indoor sport.
- Aroma oils – Infuse your room with scents that are warming, sweet, or sour. They are the best for the winter. Choose from cinnamon, clove, ginger, orange, or sandalwood essential oils.
So, if we have surprised you with some simple yet powerful recommendations to deal with the appetite spikes in winters, we recommend you incorporate them and feel the magical change in your health. While you can satisfy your hedonic hunger in moderation once in a while, you can certainly choose to satisfy your appetite in these healthier ways all the other times and keep your lifestyle best while dealing with winter blues.
Overcoming hormonal imbalance is a delicate and tricky affair, but we at You Care will help you find a way. Work with our integrative team of experts to bring your hormones back to sync and discover a lifestyle that suits YOU. To know more about our You Care Wellness Program, call our wellness consultants on 18001020253 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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