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Why the Gloomy Weather Makes Us Eat More and What to Do About It

Posted by Carmen Chu on

 

 

Rain Rain Go Away
Come again another day…


Is it me or am I more tired and hungrier than usual lately?

Can the weather really affect how we feel and our food choices?  

 


I went into a mini deep dive into looking at this phenomenon a little more to see whether there really is a positive correlation between rain and hunger.  Research has shown that during the cold and rainy days, people actually seek more comfort foods like fattening rich stews, baked and fried goodies, and creamy, hearty soups.  So it’s not all in your head! There is actual research that talks about our body’s physical response to decreased sunlight.


Why?


Light affects areas of our brain that regulates mood, appetite, sleep, and energy.  It all comes down to two key hormones in your body, melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is a hormone primarily released by the pineal gland that regulates sleep–wake cycles.   Both your body’s internal clock and the amount of light you are exposed to each day affects how much melatonin your pineal gland makes. Your melatonin levels should begin to rise by late evening (after sunset), and should stay elevated while its dark until the sun rises again. No wonder why you feel so tired when it’s dark and gloomy out.

 

And what happens when you are tired?   You crave carbs and sweets to get those energy levels up! Moreover, the dark sky can also signal to your brain that it’s winter season. In the primal days, it was very normal to prepare for the cold season by stockpiling and eating more so you have more body fat to keep you warm.

 

Serotonin is another hormone that gets affected by the amount of light you are exposed to.   Without sunshine, our serotonin levels decrease and when that happens, we experience a decrease in mood and libido, and increased appetite cravings for carbs and junk.   These symptoms are often caused by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which can be closely related to depression.

 

So what can we do to not get affected by the weather outside?

 

Exercise


When you get active, you can actually combat SAD and other feelings of sadness and stress as exercising helps release endorphins (another happy hormone!).  Studies have shown that aerobic exercises such as running and biking are most likely to boost serotonin levels. Even just 20 minutes of activity everyday can really help the blues.  So even if you feel tired and run down from the weather, make exercise an essential part of your routine and go against those negative feelings at the moment.

 

Proper Diet


A balanced diet rich in nutrients and especially the essential amino acid, tryptophan can really help the body produce more serotonin.  These includes foods such as: salmon, poultry, eggs, spinach, seeds, and nuts. Make sure you get enough healthy fats and avoid processed foods that can affect your mood negatively and leave you feeling even hungrier and unsatisfied.  

 

Get Consistent, Quality Sleep


Adequate and quality sleep, personally, is the most important.  When I feel well rested, I am automatically in a much better mood the next day.   People who suffer from depression often complain that they don’t get enough sleep/sleeping too much.  This can certainly affect your body’s ability to regulate its serotonin levels. There was one study done on rats that found that chronically sleep deprived rats are less sensitive to the positive effects of serotonin.  Try your best to get 6-8 hours of good quality snooze!  If you want to read more about how to get better sleep, we also have some tips here for you to read!

 

We also have a wide range of mood boosting foods here at Foodcraft.  If you haven’t read our blog about the 10 Foods to Boost Your Mood, then this is a great opportunity to see what little tweaks you can make in your diet to make you happier today!

 


At Foodcraft, we also have several of these products available, such as sauerkraut (fermented), miso (fermented), coconut yogurt (fermented), flax seeds, hemp seeds, and dark chocolate.  


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