Have you ever asked yourself, how come we’re happy to eat plates of salads during the summermonths but when winter approaches, the only thing that truly satisfies us is a plate of steak, full heaping of mac n’ cheese plus chocolate lava cake for dessert and couple glasses of red wine (or more) to wash everything down? Recent research suggests a genetic link between genes called DRD4, associated with seasonal patterns of weight gain and binge eating. Winter months are typically known for inducing comfort eating but why is this? Various hormones and brain chemicals are triggered as the days shorten. Eating more carbohydrates during winter months leads to ‘weight-gain’ and ‘self medicate’ with chocolate when feeling a little depressed or anxious. It’s time to re-train your brain. The answer is simple, eat to boost your serotonin, a low-glycemic diet; concentrate on eating a diet of whole grain cereals, root vegetables, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. Other everyday foods that naturally boost serotonin in a slow release form (so you don’t get the highs and lows) include: eggs (packed with protein which aids blood sugar levels), chicken, bananas (both rich in tryptophan and may also ease PMS symptoms), peas, green leafs, root vegetables,and brown rice. One great way to pick your foods when grocery shopping is picking up what is in season. Mother nature designed the seasonal growth of fruits and vegetables for a reason.
The dopamine effect: Aim to boost your dopamine production too, as low levels are linked to a lackof energy and low moods, that’s when we turn to eating comfort foods. Vitamin B12 (a vital vitamin for healthy dopamine levels) can you say bring on the Oysters? Yes please, it’s even fresher and sweeter in the winter months. Amino acid rich avocados, peanuts and almonds are also great, as your body can easily convert it to dopamine.
Hibernating at home drinking your eggnog is not going to help the situation either. Exercise is even more crucial in the winter months, don’t stop going outside just because it’s not sunny. Explore walks in nature, hit the slopes and continue to ride your bike when it’s not raining. Or if you’re looking for indoor activities, get your blood flowing with Bikram Yoga, join a Zumba class and dance your ass off. Music and dancing makes everyone happy.