Dina Savitz

Do you eat more in winter?

The temperature outside over the past few days has suddenly dropped…and I’m starving!

Living in Sydney definitely has its benefits when it comes to the weather – we are pretty blessed as even during winter, it warms up in the middle of the day.

Except for a couple of days when it gets realllllly cold…like these past few days.

I have been dressing warmly, but recently I have been absolutely starving…and no matter what I eat, I seem to want more.

Fascinated by science (as per usual), I have spent the morning researching this issue – does your body actually need more food in winter?

Apparently, the answer is yes.

Before I delve into the possible reasons – I think it’s important to first consider what your daily water intake is like, as all too often, I see clients whose overeating habits are due to their dehydration.

Being inside a warm room with the heating on, craving hot drinks (coffee or green tea that both have caffeine which can be dehydrating) and trying to stay warm (and not cool down with water), can all contribute to dehydration.

It’s very easy to think you’re hungry, when you’re actually thirsty!

So before you read on for other reasons you eat more during winter – check in with yourself and consider when you last had a glass of water.

Now for the science…

Some researchers believe that when the days start to get shorter…and darker…our bodies are biologically tuned to seek out more food and eat it faster. They claim that our bodies are very sensitive to light, and when there is less light, our bodies need more food.

Other research links the big winter appetite to SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression that is linked to lack of exposure to sunlight. While I’m not really keen on giving anyone a diagnosis as such (especially myself…), aspects of SAD can be affecting you (even if you don’t have the condition), such as craving more carbohydrates due to lower levels of serotonin in your blood.

Through all my readings, I’ve decided that there is definitely some validation to my extreme hunger pangs – but of course, I am making sure to satisfy them with whole foods – and carbohydrate rich whole foods include rice, potato, sweet potato and pumpkin.

I think our bodies are designed to eat more during winter – so rather than depriving myself – I’m adding in extra food, and an extra workout to ensure my serotonin levels are not affected by these darker days.

And my favourite extra food to include at the moment?

Bananas – they contain tryptophan, phenylalanine and leucine in a high ratio which is ideal for increasing serotonin levels!

Dina Savitz helps people discover how a regular exercise regime, small improvements in diet and individualised natural medicine can help improve their energy levels and overall health. As a naturopath and personal trainer with over 12 years experience, Dina works with clients both online and in person.