Spring is nearly upon us, but winter weather still has us in a funk. There are a few ways to fight that feeling and to avoid the extra weight winter always seems to bring. This article comes from Fitness Magazine:
“Winter Woe: Your carb cravings skyrocket when the days get short.
Fix-it trick: Munch on healthy carbs in the afternoon before the sun goes down to stave off a splurge. Winter can trigger cravings for comforting, sweet carbs because diminished sunlight during the season makes serotonin in the brain less active. Too little of this mood-lifting chemical leaves you feeling tired and hungry, says Judith Wurtman, PhD, founder of Triad, a Harvard Hospital weight-management center, and coauthor of The Serotonin Power Diet. Your brain is making you desire carbs because after you eat them, your serotonin level will rise. Wurtman’s research found that “carbohydrate cravers” with seasonal affective disorder may consume an additional 800 calories or more a day because they satisfy their munchies with fatty carbs; indulge like that for five days straight and you’ll gain a pound. Put yourself in a good mood during winter’s dark days by instead eating low-fat, healthy carbs, such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal with a sprinkle of brown sugar, and cinnamon toast. Because cravings tend to grow stronger as the day goes on, try to eat protein, dairy products, and vegetables for breakfast and lunch, Wurtman says. Then have a low-fat carb snack, such as popcorn, soy crackers, or cereal, in the afternoon. For dinner, opt for roasted potatoes, whole-grain pasta, black bean soup, or vegetable stew with barley. (Avoid eating a lot of protein, because that prevents serotonin from being made.) Another slimming strategy that may help put the brakes on binges is to spend at least 20 minutes a day outside or near a bright window to amp up your serotonin, suggests Donnica Moore, MD, author of Women’s Health for Life.”
You should also keep in mind that exercise can help you feel full, so even a little workout here and there can help you fight off winter weight. Research, from the Public Library of Science Biology, shows that exercise helps you feel full by triggering specific neurons in the brain. These neurons control satiety and help reduce caloric intake by effecting your eating patterns. Continuous overeating is shown to create a “neural signal malfunction” that makes it harder for you to feel full; so the more you overindulge the harder it is for your body to know when to quit. Increasing exercise restores the neuron communication and allows you to reduce caloric intake by feeling full, this is particularly important for those who are trying to cut back on calories.
When you are planted on the couch and feeling the winter blues, make some space on the floor and do a few reps of crunches during commercial breaks. You may feel silly at first or simply ‘not in the mood’, but remember, exercise can improve mood even in as little as five minutes. Try to add small bouts of exercises throughout your day, a few push-ups here and there, some crunches or even jumping jacks to increase those happy feelings!