Winter Warmers

Winter warmer..........

We all know it, we all do it, but why do we have a natural inclination to eat more during the autumn and winter. The reason being, the colder weather leads to a drop in our body temperature, which has the effect of stimulating appetite. This is because eating helps to generate internal heat, and so subsequently leads to a rise in body temperature. During winter, the body works harder and spends more energy just trying to keep us warm, so a desire to eat more comes from your body’s natural increase in energy use.

However, there is no need to use this as an excuse to overeat! There are other effective ways to keep warm, such as wearing extra layers of clothing or exercising, both of which are preferable to an extra layer of fat from eating too much! Our ancestors needed a significant quantity of fat to survive through the winter until Spring. We don’t need the extra fat, but scientists believe we have nevertheless inherited those genes.

What Foods Can Satisfy Us During Winter

It is often carbohydrates that we crave most during winter with research showing that people with cravings get a great proportion of their foods from refined carbohydrates (white bread, cakes, biscuits) and sugar. These types of carbohydrates offer a quick fix of energy, but can lead to a vicious cycle, as they boost the blood sugar levels too high which then results in a crash and a craving for another “fix” from yet more refined carbohydrates or sugary snacks. As well as leading to weight gain, these food choices are devoid of the decent nutrients needed to maintain a good level of health through the winter, a time when we often have to deal with the onslaught of the colds and viruses surrounding us as we go about our daily lives.

So how do we deal with these cravings? Eating regular meals and snacks containing protein and fibre are very important. These leave us feeling satisfied and our blood sugar levels stable and therefore we have less desire for unhealthy unrefined carbs and sugary snacks. Good examples of a nutritious low calorie snack could be some seeds and an apple or an oatcake with some hummus – these should successfully keep you satisfied until your next meal.

As well as healthy snacking, our choice of main meals during the winter is important. Eating seasonally is something we often hear about, there is a common sense reason too, as research has shown that even in our modern world with its heating and lighting, seasonal eating still has a major influence on satiety mechanisms (meaning to be satisfied/properly refuelled) in the body, just as it did for our ancestors.

Eat Foods In Season

Certain foods suit each season. The Chinese believe that in winter we should focus on foods that build up our kidney function. These are foods such as cabbage, carrots, chestnuts, rice, seeds and spices. Eastern and western nutritional experts alike usually believe there is certainly a place for warming herbs and seasoning during the winter months. These include ginger, cinnamon, cloves, mustard, nutmeg, pepper, chilli and oregano, so try to use these where you can. It is believed these foods serve an important function in our bodies by helping the blood circulation, important for keeping warm, and most winter fruits and vegetables also come with nutrients required for the season. All of the above keep us warm and satisfied, yet are very low in calories. Do some research into seasonal winter foods to find out if there is any that you can get hold of and use to give yourself and your body a helping hand as the temperature starts to drop.

For other tips and advice direct your fitness/nutrition based questions to tom.horton@cadburyhouse.com.

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