Why does the cold weather make us want to eat more and go for warming foods?
There’s no doubt we feel colder, and with the shorter days we tend to huddle inside more with the idea of a cold salad and an iced orange juice being less appealing than a soup and cup of tea.
It may be due to biological and psychological changes [1,2] but care needs to be taken that this doesn’t become an excuse to eat loads more and reach out for less nutritious food. Winter foods still need to be nourishing – specially to keep winter ills away – and there are many ways to do this.
Although we may not be as active in winter, we are often inside with heating on. Keeping our fluid intake up is important because often people eat when they are really thirsty. So, go for teas such as green tea or fruit teas. Try hot water with a slice of lemon and a little honey. If you are having a hot chocolate make sure you use trim milk and remember to keep any morning takeaway coffee to the smaller sizes – not change to tall lattes
These are another great way to keep up the liquid intake. There are many soups that can be made quickly and easily from vegetables in the freezer or fridge. Use a packaged beef, chicken, or vegetable stock for speed. Steer clear of adding too much cream and other fats.
Obviously, porridge is a choice for some, but just putting some warm milk on certain cereals such as a granola or muesli can turn your summer breakfast into a winter one. Try making a couple of poached eggs on toast as the protein will help you through until lunch time
In winter, you can still have lovely warm salads consisting of lean meat, and warm winter greens. Swap out the meat for some feta and olives and nuts for a vegetarian option
Make use of the vegetables available in winter and try some sweet potato dishes instead of ordinary potatoes – they just might help a craving for something sweet.
If you feel like a hot pie, choose a mince one with potato on top rather than steak and cheese. Go for pasta with tomato-based sauce – not one laden with milk and cheese.
A dessert can be comparatively healthy – try apple crumble, making sure there are lots of apples and just a sprinkling of crumble. Or put a little hot custard on the fruit instead of yoghurt.
The irony with winter is if we are staying inside more so we can keep the kitchen and ourselves warm by making soups and casseroles ahead of time. And if you are feeling a little low with the cold weather then little things like a hot shower or warm drink can make you feel a little happier [3,4].
- Ma Y, Olendzki BC, Hafner AR, Chiraboga D, et al. Seasonal Variation in Food Intake, Physical Activity, and Body Weight in a Predominantly Overweight Population. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. December 2005
- Cahill S, Tuplin E, Holahan, MR. Circannual Changes in Stress and Feeding Hormones and Their Effect on Food-Seeking Behaviors. Frontiers in Neuroscience. August 2013
- Wurtman RJ, Wurtman JJ. Brain Serotonin, Carbohydrate-Craving, Obesity, and Depression. Obesity. November 1995
- Williams LE, Bargh JA. Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth. Science. October 24, 2008