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Does Your Appetite Change With the Seasons?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Even though summertime is the season for backyard barbeques and treats at the local creamy whip (my favorite!), I find that I’m not as hungry when the temperature rises.   Maybe it’s just that I don’t like that heavy, full feeling when it’s hot and sticky outside.  Maybe it’s that I’m busy chasing the kids around the yard and don’t have as much time to think about food.  Or maybe it’s that my brain is hardwired to increase my appetite when the weather turns colder.  Research shows that when the days get shorter and darker, our appetites tend to increase.
One study out of the University of Georgia "tracked how much people ate from season to season and how quickly they ate it. Turns out, the study subjects consumed about 200 more calories a day beginning in the fall when the days grow darker."  Another study explained that human beings are very sensitive to light.  When there is less of it, we seem to eat more and eat faster.
But not all experts agree with this theory.  Some say that it’s not instinct, but environment that causes us to eat more.  Being inside all day with less to do (and fewer opportunities to exercise) and the holiday season are contributing factors to the increase in consumption.  One expert suggests that cravings are linked to memories.  For example, thinking about your Grandma’s apple pie that you ate every Thanksgiving makes you more likely to indulge. 
So what can you do to avoid packing on the extra pounds when the temperature drops? 
  1. Try not to confuse hunger with boredom.  If you’re stuck inside with nothing to do, drink a glass of water and find something to keep you busy.  If you still have those hunger feelings after 20-30 minutes, then you probably are hungry and could use a small snack.  But if you find that keeping busy keeps you from snacking, then you probably weren’t that hungry to begin with. 
  2. Stay consistent with your exercise routine.  That might mean an extra layer of clothes to bundle up for an outside walk.  Or it could require you to get creative about your indoor workouts.  Try some of the workouts on SparkPeople, or check out a new video from your local library for variety.  Don’t let the weather be your excuse to sit on the couch instead of getting up and moving!
  3. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you love.  If you really enjoy Grandma’s apple pie, find a way to fit it into your calorie budget.   It’s a much more enjoyable way to eat, and also helps prevent binges on "forbidden" foods. 
Looking for ideas of What to Eat This Winter?  Here are 10 Cool Ways to Beat the Winter Blues.
What do you think?  Does your appetite change with the seasons?  If so, why do you think that happens?   

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