Winter weight gain and what to do about it
If you're someone who goes up a dress size (or more) in winter, you are not alone. A bit of winter padding is common to many but it is not inevitable or magic in some way. There are some genuine reasons why you can put on a few pounds once the evenings draw in.
The most important thing among them is what happens when there is less daylight. This has two major effects on appetite:
1. Daylight helps us make vitamin D, a potent anti-depressant. When we are feeling low or unwell, it is common for us to eat more and usually, it is all the wrong things. We choose comforting chocolate, cake and crisps instead of the healthier alternatives.
2. Daylight helps boost seretonin, the natural appetite suppressant neurotransmitter. Lower seretonin means you feel more hungry. As sugar boosts seretonin, it is common to crave sugar as a way to boost your seretonin levels.
So what can you do to avoid the winter weight gain?
Fortunately, there are ways to boost both vitamin D and seretonin naturally.
- Try to eat foods that are a source of vitamin D, such as eggs or take a daily vitamin D3 (the active form) tablet to keep your levels balanced.
- Get outside everyday, even in winter. Roll up your sleeves to get as much sunlight on your skin as possible.
- Eat foods containing the amino acid tryptophan, as our bodies use this to make seretonin. Tryptophan can be found in turkey, chicken, eggs, avocado and bananas.
- Exercise. This boosts natural endorphins which can offset the depressant effects of both low vitamin D and low seretonin. Exercise outside is even better.
If you'd like more help on weight management and creating a personal diet plan for winter, you can find support and gain advice through consulting a qualified nutrition professional.
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