As temperatures drop in the winter, your body has to work harder to keep you warm, which can increase your appetite and make you eat more
If you feel hungrier in the winter than in other times of the year, you’re not alone. As temperatures drop in the winter, your body has to work harder to keep you warm, which can increase your appetite and make you eat more.
Here are 6 reasons why you may be feeling hungrier in the winter, and how you can avoid putting on extra pounds.
6 reasons why you feel so hungry in the winter
- Evolutionary changes: According to some scientists, increased hunger during the colder months is the result of evolutionary biology. In primitive times, cold meant the possibility of death to the scarcity of food and higher likelihood of hypothermia. In response to this, the human body has developed an impulse to eat richer, fattier foods that provide more fuel during colder weather.
- Hormonal changes: As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, your brain chemistry changes, which can in turn cause imbalances in your hunger and satiety hormones (leptin and ghrelin).
- Desire for comfort: Many people experience mood swings during the winter. Being cold can make you crave warm, heavy comfort foods such as stews, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese.
- Seasonal affective disorder: Reduced sunlight lowers serotonin levels in the brain, which are mood-boosting neurotransmitters. Because carb-rich foods give you a serotonin rush, eating more may be your body’s way of trying to combat seasonal depression.
- Vitamin D insufficiency: Lack of sunlight may lead to vitamin D deficiency, which can make you feel hungrier. Many recent studies have reported that people deficient in vitamin D have a tendency to succumb to binging episodes.
- Boredom: Cold and dreary weather may mean you are stuck indoors without much to do. Some people simply eat more in the winter because they are bored.
How to curb winter hunger
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help you keep cravings at bay and eat less during mealtimes.
- Keep warm: Keep your room at a comfortable temperature, wear layers, and take hot baths to stay warm.
- Get moving: When you are inactive, your appetite increases due to a drop in body temperature. Try walking on a treadmill, doing weights, or even stretches to keep your body moving and warm.
- Eat healthy: Stick to a balanced diet of whole grains, lean protein, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Lean proteins and omega-3 fatty acids can help keep you feeling fuller for longer than carb-heavy meals like pasta. Bake at home with healthier ingredients such as almond flour, coconut flour, peanut butter, and oats.
- Take vitamin supplements: Studies report that taking vitamin B and vitamin C may help curb your appetite. Talk to your doctor before starting a supplement regimen.
- Get a daily dose of light: Spend at least an hour outdoors so that you can get some sunlight exposure. This can help you get enough vitamin D to keep the winter blues at bay.
- Reduce stress: Spend quality time with your family, friends, and pets to boost your mood and reduce stress, which can help avoid stress eating.
- Try herbs: Discuss the following appetite-suppressing herbs with your doctor:
- Ginger, mint, cayenne, and fennel: Good for digestion and may help curb hunger
- Turmeric, cinnamon, and cardamom: May reduce winter mood swings
- Green tea: Acts as a mild appetite suppressant, diuretic, and metabolism booster
- Alfalfa: Contains an active ingredient called saponin with isoflavones, flavones, and sterols that can suppress appetite
Medically Reviewed on 4/12/2022