It is time to admit it.
Winter is coming.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about changes in food cravings once it starts to get cold. A big steaming bowl of mac and cheese isn’t very exciting on a 95° day but when the temperature drops to 35° we suddenly can’t get enough.
We KNOW it isn’t in our plan. We KNOW it doesn’t make us feel great. But suddenly it looks so delicious. We eat it, we gain weight, and we kick ourselves for “screwing up”.
Are you suddenly a failure?
No. Of course not.
If you think about it, doesn't it make sense that you might need to change up more than your wardrobe when the weather changes? The change in weather impacts us and our habits. You may not even be aware of it. Don't give up. Instead, adjust your habits for the season.
Here are a couple of ways you can take control of your winter cravings:
1. Monitor your Hydration
Believe it or not, we still sweat during the winter. We spend our days drying out the air with our furnaces and heaters. We can still get dehydrated.
We can still mistake thirst for hunger.
The last thing that sounds good when we’re facing a snowstorm is a big glass of ice water. It is easy to forget. Try starting your day with some hot (or just warm) water with lemon. Keep a container of room temperature water by your desk. If you aren't already tracking your water, now is a good time to start.
2. Keep Warm from the Inside
When you’re doing your food plan for the week, make sure to include warm soups such as lentil soup packed with veggies, chili, or even just a cup of broth if that is what you like best.
Starting your meal with a warm soup (or making it your entire meal) will help keep you feeling warm, cozy, and satisfied.
Pizza is not a good way to warm up. Sorry.
3. Get Your Vitamin D
We aren’t out absorbing as much Vitamin D in the wintertime but we can make some substitutions in our diets to help make sure we keep our levels up.
Salmon, especially Wild Salmon if you can get it, is a great addition to your winter meal plan. Egg yolks from pasture raised chickens are also a good source. (Eat the white too. There is some good protein in there for you)
Vegetarian? Add more mushrooms to your diet during the winter months.
4. Get Moving
We are less likely to get out and exercise once running/biking/paddleboarding weather is behind us. It is easy to talk ourselves out of going to the gym when you open the front door to a pitch black, icy morning.
This is exactly when it is most important to go.
Serotonin levels can drop in the winter. This can cause us to crave carbohydrates as our bodies attempt to restore the balance. Do you know what a good, fast, way to boost your serotonin level is?
5. Try a New Winter Sport
Is there a winter sport you've thought about trying? This is the year to do it. It can be easier to get your exercise in when you are doing something you think is fun.
There are options to rent equipment for many sports so you don't have to make a huge financial commitment up front. You may also have friends or family with equipment they are willing to lend you.
If the first sport you try isn't for you, try another. There are options for every fitness level if you do your research. Challenge yourself to find one that works for you.
You may find that you start to look forward to the winter months when they coincide with an activity that you enjoy.
6. Get A Buddy
Get a workout partner who has a similar schedule. Commit to a certain number of sessions per week. Share your food log with a friend. Find someone who will help keep you accountable. Perhaps you do the same for them.
Maybe you have a friend who might try that new winter sport with you.
It is a lot harder to roll over and go back to sleep when we know someone is waiting for us.
It isn't as easy to bite into that slice of pizza when you know your buddy is going to find out about it.
You may find that this is a good strategy to keep up year round.
7. Plan a Getaway
If it is in your budget, plan a trip at least midway through the winter months. It doesn't have to be an expensive dream destination. It only has to be someplace you can look forward to going.
Print out a photo of your destination. Hang it on your fridge, your front door, and/or anywhere you will regularly see it as a reminder to keep focused. Think about how good you are going to feel putting on your bathing suit and kicking back once you get there.
Being mindful of how the winter impacts you will help you choose which strategies will be most effective for keeping those winter cravings from derailing your progress. Start small.
What one thing can you try tomorrow?