Why do we eat more when it is cold? (Christmas)

Why do we eat more when it is cold? (Christmas)

Hi there. How are you? If I have timed it right, I have posted this before lunch. So you may be reading this while you have your lunch. And if you are in the UK or other cold climates at this time of year, you will know what a comfort a warm meal is. And I think a warm meal feels great especially when you are cold. The thing is, after finishing a warm bowl of soup, are you still hungry? And at Christmas time if you go for a walk and come back in, are you more hungry than usual? I know I am.

Which begs the question: why do we eat more when we are cold?

Well let’s find out!

According to Huen (2016), there a few reasons why we may eat more when we are cold.

The first is because we are cold. When it is cold, our core body temperature drops, resulting in our bodies burning more calories to stay warm. A suggestion to stave off the cold whilst staying healthy is to try having hot tea, especially spicy teas and soups filled with beans and vegetables. Coffee works too, as caffeine raises metabolism and warms the body from the inside out. And that is perfect news as I love coffee! ☕️😊

A second reason why we may eat more when we are cold is because we are less active. When it is cold we sit around more due to cold but also due to adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow and wind. Getting up and about and moving is one way to get more active. Going to the gym is a great way to get warm, but if you don’t fancy the gym, going for a brisk walk is also a great way of working the heart, pumping the blood and raising the body’s core temperature. Working the body is not only a good way to warm up, but it’s also a great way to stave off cravings.


A third reason why we may eat more is that we are dehydrated. When it is cold we wear more layers, and you may be surprised to know that you can actually work up quite a sweat. We sometimes confuse dehydration for hunger, and therefore we may eat when we are actually dehydrated. A way to know is to have a glass or two of water. If you are still hungry afterward, then you will know. A further way to know how dehydrated you are is to observe your body. Do you have dry lips or a dry mouth? Is your urine dark? You may be dehydrated.

A fourth potential reason is psychological. When it gets cold and dark, this sometimes has a psychological effect on people. People get effected by something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. People affected by SAD may feel low and despondent, and may turn to food and use it as a comfort tool. Instead of reaching for food as comfort or out of boredom, maybe take the dog for a walk, or go for a walk. If lack of sunlight is effecting you, you can also get alarm clocks which wake you up to sunlight. I found an interesting video about sunlight alarm clocks which you may find helpful. Video is property of YouTube. I take no credit and am not promoting nor am I affiliated to the product.

I know that whilst we have been speaking about warm food and our bodies and metabolism, it is important, for those who have been following my blogs over the past year, to consider those less fortunate to ourselves.

For those this Christmas who are sleeping rough and who could really benefit from warming up with a hot meal, there are excellent charities which work to support people less fortunate than us. I donate to one called Crisis, a homeless persons charity. You could be making someone’s Christmas, and it will cost you about the same as a Christmas toy or two or a round of drinks at the bar.

https://www.crisis.org.uk/

Thank you 😊

In summary, we may eat more when it is cold for a variety of reasons, from being to stay warm, because we are being less active, because we may be dehydrated and because we may be affected by a seasonal psychological disorder. Suggestions to keep warm and to stave off cravings is too have warm soups packed full of vegetables and hot tea and coffee (sounds great to me!). If you are feeling low during cold seasons though, getting out and about, speaking to your GP or picking up the phone and calling a friend are good places to start.

I hope you have found the blog of some help. Remember: it’s a journey. It will take time. Have patience in the process. You will get there. Until then, stay happy, stay healthy, and have a lovely weekend wherever you are on the planet.

And remember: love yourself. 

References:

Huen E . (2016). Five Reasons Why We Overeat In Winter. Available: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/eustaciahuen/2016/01/31/five-reasons-why-we-overeat-in-winter/amp/. Last accessed 23rd November 2019.

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A bit about the author:

I am a guy who is (nearly) 40, who is sharing a journey of weight management and wellbeing.I am also a mental health professional with a wealth of years of experience in supporting individuals who have challenging mental illnesses and personality disorders. 

Prior to my current professional role, I spent several years supporting members of the community as a fitness professional, assisting individuals with weight loss and health improvement programmes.

I completed a PGDip in Mental Health Nursing in 2013, and an MSc in Advanced Practice in 2016 in which I looked at improving nurses’ level of engagement with patients with challenging personality disorders. 

In 2018 I successfully undertook a Clinical reasoning in Physical Assessments course with the view to start studying toward becoming an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in late 2019.

In 2015 I also undertook a Mentorship for practice (BSc Hons) course and have been supporting future nurses with their training and development. I have also recently supported a Healthcare Assistant Staff toward training in and successfully passing and achieving a Foundation Degree in Mental Health Nursing.

In my current role I am a person looking to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the individual. As part of my role within the health services in supporting individuals with mental health care needs, I am also currently looking to develop myself as a Wellness Coach, to support the individual with weekly wellness blogs, with the view to support individuals on a 1:1 basis as well as holding motivational lectures and seminars.

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