Are you SAD about Winter Weight Gain?
Do you seem to be driven to eat more in winter? Many of us wake up in spring to find we have more than a few pounds to lose. Why is that and what can we do about it?
As spring arrives many of us are left with a legacy from the short days and long nights of winter - a whole heap of extra pounds we could do without. And it's not all due to overeating during the festive season. It seems that whether we have lots of parties to attend or not, we are all programmed to eat more in winter.
It's all to do with our brain chemistry and especially the feel-good hormone we produce called serotonin. This hormone helps us feel calm, balanced and in control of our emotions and without it we start to feel down and depressed. But levels of this hormone drop in the population as a whole in winter and as the nights draw in and the amount of daylight we all receive diminishes, we are increasingly attracted to eat sweet and starchy food in an attempt to raise serotonin levels.
Of course, a sudden intake of sweet or starchy food causes blood sugar and then insulin levels to peak and we actually experience a rapid drop in blood sugar as insulin does its work and reduces the glucose level in the blood. As a result, we crave sweet and starchy food even more!
Whereas all of us experience this drop in serotonin levels to some degree, some 5 to 10% of the population - those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) - have an acute form of this problem and may gain anything up to 30lbs in weight each winter. It's also thought that some 25% of the population suffer a milder form of the disorder. SAD affects not only your eating patterns but leaves you feeling depressed, lethargic and sleepy - none of which contribute to anyone maintaining their summer shape.
It's all very well, knowing why we gain weight each winter, but what can you do about it?
During winter it's important to maintain a balanced diet, keeping blood sugar on an even keel, even if you find you need to eat a bit more than in the rest of the year. If you choose your carbohydrates in the form of whole grains and vegetables and always eat some lean protein with every meal or snack you will take yourself out of the high-low blood sugar trap and will gain less weight.
You will probably also find that with the arrival of spring, the pounds drop off more easily because you will be less attracted to heavy winter foods and are happier to eat salads, fresh vegetables and lean proteins so the start of spring is a great time to lose weight for summer.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janice Elizabeth Small is a health and wellness writer and weight loss coach. She became interested in seasonal affective disorder after seeing the effects of winter on herself and her clients. For more information about Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms, causes and treatment see her site at http://www.allaboutSAD.com