I do not like discussing politics. Never have and really dislike it these days. It has become so divisive. If you say anything someone doesn’t like, you get cancelled. Fear has taken over. And it pushes people to not only be fearful, but anxious. Political fear tells us to fear “the other.” Those who don’t […]
It’s January and cold! Omicron has me more isolated again and my activity level has tanked. I’m eating more. Why? Apparently there are a number of reasons I reach for yummy comfort food.
It’s true. Wintertime affects our eating habits. The cold temps, shorter daylight, less exercise and more isolation turn our attention to food. Behind our trips to the refrigerator is a bit of science that explain are urge to eat. The winter months can trigger cravings. Our hormones controlling hunger and appetite are affected and we feel hungrier. And what do we want? More higher calorie foods. So, here are 4 problems and solutions to help with winter overeating.
Problem: #1: I eat to reward myself
High calorie foods are tempting when you want to give yourself a little reward. Don’t I deserve a treat? Wouldn’t a cup of hot chocolate make me feel better right now? How about a hearty bowl of New England Clam Chowder? Oh, and a few chips would be nice to add some crunch. You know how this goes. Food is rewarding. It’s pleasurable and enjoyable to eat. We like and want to eat and have lots of access to food. All it takes is a few steps to the pantry to pull out a tasty delight.
Solution: Food is not the only reward. But you have to think about what else feels good and then do that. Try spending time playing with your children or being with your partner. Even play time with your pet can be rewarding. Watch a movie you have been waiting to see. Try an online workout class. Light a candle and take a long soothing bath. Treat yourself to a pedicure. The point is to think about what else is fun or enjoyable that could engage your time and energy instead of eating.
Problem #2: I eat because I am bored
Boredom often triggers mindless eating. You aren’t really hungry, however, eating gives you something to do. And the more time you spend indoors lessens your options and can lead to more inactivity and boredom. It’s too cold to go to the gym. And who want to brave the ice and snow? Yes, there is that exercise bike in your basement, but you feel too lazy to get on it. Furthermore, you have already binge watched every series of interest. When bored, eating gives you something to do.
Solution: Get off the couch and get active in something of interest. What about a new home hobby or craft? Try your hand at painting or drawing. Maybe a home building project or reorganization of a closet. Start reading a new book series or play games with the family. Break the boredom with activity rather than food.
Problem #3: I eat because I am stressed
And then of course, there is stress. Always lurking in the background whispering, “Just a few brownies will make you feel better.” We grab for the delights, then feel bad and even more stressed. And if you have those winter blues, stress eating can be a temporary mood enhancer. The lack of sunlight this time of year lends to carb craving. Food can help mood and reduce stress for the moment. But the effect is quickly gone. In the long run, it doesn’t work and leads to a habit of stress eating.
Solution: Learn to de-stress without using food. This is when good coping skills come in handy. Exercise and good sleep both help reduce stress. Practice relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation or music meditation. Read your Bible to calm your racing mind and meditate on the goodness of God. Listen to an encouraging podcast or great praise and worship music to distract your attention away from food.
Problem #4: I eat whatever I have in the house
When the weather gets cold, we don’t feel like getting out as often and go to the store. But when the fruits and vegetables are gone, snack food becomes an easy option. Be aware of this and choose comfort foods that don’t derail your healthy eating lifestyle.
Solution: It takes planning to stock your freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables that you can whip up into a smoothy or use in the air fryer. Stock up on foods that will last or can be frozen. A few good choices are:
Soups. This is a winter comfort food but avoid the heavy creamed based ones. Opt for broth based with lots of veggies to fill you up.
Fruits: Put them in a bowl so you see them. When the craving strikes, reach for a tangerine or apple. Many fruits can help boost your immune system.
Vegetables: Get an air fryer and have fun with veggies. They taste so good using this method of cooking. You can use frozen bags and season them up.
Desserts: Have a few dark chocolate snacks to grab when you have that craving for dessert. Consider small sized treats in single servings.
Fish: Add salmon to your diet. The Vitamin D helps your mood
As we finish up these winter months, be intentional to not engage in mindless or lazy eating. But using these tips will help you eat better. Give them a try and see how you feel.