23 Jun 2020
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Why we're hungrier in winter

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By The Daily Bar

Feeling a little like a bottomless pit that could eat a horse, go back for seconds and still be thinking about dessert? You’re not alone, hello insatiable winter hunger!

The winter nibbles have hit us hard this year ~ maybe harder than normal or just cue selective memory. Either way being the curious folk that we are, we wanted to find out exactly why it is that in these colder months it feels like we can’t stop thinking about feasting on ALL of the delicious foods ALL of the time.

Here’s the 6 things potentially affecting your winter appetite

1. 
Biology
Research has actually shown that it could be a primitive instinct to increase calorie intake as the days get shorter and colder. Because the days are shorter (less time to hunt), we're biologically compelled to seek out more food at once and eat faster than usual, an ingrained survival of the fittest behaviour.

2. 
Sunlight
Fewer daylight hours, and less sun on the skin may affect our cravings too. Sunlight is one of the factors that triggers the release of the mood boosting ‘happy’ hormone serotonin, so yes the shorter days could actually be getting you down.

And guess what else increases serotonin levels? Carbohydrate intake! Research suggests that people may crave carbohydrates as a way to improve mood, as insulin released from the breakdown of carbohydrates also can increase serotonin production.

So perhaps that thick chunk of sourdough really is making you happy after all?

3.
Comfort
Waking up in the dark, coming home from work in the dark, mood matching the weather, yep we think so. As well as the physical effects of winter on our bodies, the short days can also hit us emotionally too, and guess what, comfort food is a thing!

Culturally, warming, heavier, richer ‘comfort-foods’ are associated with Winter and evoke, well a sense of comfort, which is why these are often the foods we crave when we’re feeling a little cold and blue.

4. 
Keeping Warm
Although we may be less inclined to leap out of bed at 6am and move our bodies, our bodies are actually using extra energy in trying to keep our temperature regulated. Although shivering probably doesn’t quite count as exercise, if you’re expending more energy throughout the day trying to keep the thermostat consistent, you’ll probably crave more fuel (food) for the fire.

5. Dehydration
Are you hungry hungry, or just hungry thirsty? Cold days aren’t exactly conducive to skulling your 8 glasses, and thirst is so often mistaken for hunger.

Struggling to sip enough water? Try herbal tea or hot water (and no 8 coffee’s doesn’t count!)

6. 
Boredom
Bad weather cancelled your plans? Hit the snooze button too many times and missed your workout? The reality is that cold weather is a little unmotivating, so generally we are less active in these months (think hibernation). But with the reduced physical activity also comes, boredom which can very easily lead to endless snacking. So perhaps you’re actually just a little bored, not hungry?

So no, it’s not in your head, you probably just are feeling a little more peckish than the halcyon days of Summer, after all we’re natural beings, and adjusting our diet and activity to match the seasons just makes sense.

Us? Well we’re going to be hydrating hard, seeking all the serotonin-boosting winter sun we can find and moving our bodies... with the slow cooker on and occasionally a good crusty chunk of sourdough in hand, because balance!

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