Here we are in the last month of this remarkable year. The days are getting nippy out there and the nights freezing cold. Winter is nimbly setting in. Soon, the heavenly white snow from the skies will start enveloping everything, steadily transforming the earth into a winter wonderland!
The winter season surely tends to slacken our work pace a bit as we start eyeing the approaching holidays lined up at the end of the month. All around the globe, the holiday spirit starts to sink in, beginning early December. Even our bodies tend to get slothish as we end up eating more than usual. But have you ever wondered why so? Well, there are several theories to this. Some experts believe that we tend to crave more and eat more in the winter months not because of the ‘hibernation instinct’, which we humans clearly do not have (thank goodness for that!), but mainly because of our antecedent experiences and behaviors. Since our ancestors faced overall food scarcity, they stockpiled for the harsh winters so that they could eat at ease without stepping out, so they eventually ended up eating more than usual.
Some experts negate this theory. They believe winters make us eat more mostly due to social emotional cues. The winter holidays revolve majorly around eating. And maybe it's the memories of these positive and direct associations with food that causes food cravings as soon as cold weather begins to hit us. From Halloween till the New Year rings in, we are bombarded with all sorts of food-related advertising; baked goodies at stores and offices, candies and chocolates gifted by friends. So basically, food is right there making a constant presence in our subconscious mind at this time of the year. As we start spending more time at home and eating more, the reading on that weighing scale will obviously show more!
They say come winter and our metabolic rate also slows down just like us...but that's not true. In fact, our metabolism speeds up to provide our body the extra energy to keep itself warm. These biological changes make us inclined to eat more of higher-calorie food. When it's cold, wet, gloomy and dark outside, we also tend to develop a lower level of happiness, and as a result we lean towards ‘comfort foods’ in the desire to cheer ourselves up. We binge eat and succumb to unhealthy cravings. Even though we may not feel hungry physically, it's our mind that plays tricks by continuously asking for food. We often find ourselves munching on packed snacks mindlessly and then worry about unwanted ‘winter’ weight gain.
Now to keep that weight in check, we can follow some tried and tested ways.
Get up and movemore than often for that glass of warm water from the kitchen. Keeping hydrated is also key as our mind misunderstands our urge for water as a hunger pang as we tend to go down on our water intake in the cold weather.
Be innovative by making use of the seasonal vegetables to make different salads and soups with the winter bounty. They are filling, nutritious and low in calories. Also include the spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg) and try recipes with nuts and dry fruits that have been associated with winter time and are said to bring warmth and strength required by our body in these chilly months.
Mild exercise with meditation will curb down the sugar cravings and reduce the appetite considerably. Even if you don't want to step out of the house in the cold, just involve everyone in the house for say a 20 minute yoga or a workout session followed by meditation or simple pranayamas.
Don’t worry, be happy and keep your cheer factor up in the dull cold weather. The lack of sunlight in the winter can actually have a significant effect on your mood and health. So soak up the sun whenever it's shining in the winter sky. Listen to music, sing along, enjoy a zoom call with family and friends to keep your spirits high. Once you are glad and jubilant, the winter blues will not bother you.
So dear friends, stay warm and active to keep the seasonal melancholy at bay till the next time we meet here again.