Driving home on Friday night i was stuck in traffic, it took me four hours to get home from Coventry a journey that should take two hours! So i put on smooth radio to help me deal with the stress! Nice relaxing music. But today smooth radio had turned to Smooth Xmas! It's mid-November and already the Xmas songs are here! Now i personally love Christmas so kept the station on on sang along to The Pogues and Chris Rea. But it also meant Winter is here. Cold, dark Winter. Now this bit I don't like!
I had a question from one of my Inferno group recently; "Why am I hungry more in the Winter? Why do i want to eat more proper food?" By proper food, she meant big filling dishes with lots of potatoes, stews etc. There are a few reasons for this which i will go on to explain, and many of you will experience this yourself
1) Food keeps you warm! When you eat, there is a thermogenic response ie your body produces heat. Now you get this from any food, salads, fruits and vegetables. But not surprisingly we crave the calorie and carb dense foods, our cheat meals ALL the time! This is partly cultural, partly conditioning, but definitely not biological. This means we can "programme" ourselves out of this craving but it will take time.
Solution? You can still eat fullsome food, have you tried the "Man Maker Pie" a recipe I got from Fitter Food. It will definitely keep you warm on a Winter's day and makes 8 servings. Have decent filling food to hand and you won't snack on
2) Winter makes you SAD The longer dark nights (more importantly the shorter hours of light) disrupt our levels of Serotonin. SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that is linked to lower Serotonin levels. Guess what eating those carb rich foods does to Serotonin? Yep, you guessed it, up they go! Lack of sunlight increases our cravings for carb-laden foods in a cry for serotonin. Also, as it gets colder we tend to move and exercise less. Exercise is another way for us to naturally increase Serotonin. Without light or exercise, it is no surprise our cravings shoot up
Solution? Take a Vitamin D3 supplement, at least 2000IU a day. This will balance off our cravings and raise serotonin. I recommend one from Natural Nutrients, you can find it by clicking here
3) Sleep and Stress We have a natural Stress - Sleep cycle called our Circadian Rhythym. Effectively, Cortisol rises in the morning, wakes us up and then drops off through the day, and Melatonin rises when it starts to get dark and helps us repair mentally and physically through the night. The problem with Winter is it gets dark so damn early! We are wired in to sleep when it gets dark. So naturally we are meant to sleep from 5pm-ish to about 7am-ish in the Winter. Hands up if you would like a 14 hour kip! This messes up our natural hormone levels.
Other things that make the problem worse is the use of artificial lights at home. Computers, phones, TVs, lights all of this serve to keep Cortisol high (our fat storing hormone BTW) and Melatonin low.
Solution Begin to wind down the lights, and electronic use at least two hours before bed. Switch to orange bulbs in your lights, or use candles. If you need to be on your computer you can download an app called F.Lux which will dim your screen as the sun sets stopping the cortisol-producing blue light from affecting you! And as the graphic shows, always try to be in bed by 10:30pm in the Winter!
Resident health expert and owner, Dean Zweck.