Winter is such a beautiful time of the year With the autumn leaves changing colour and falling, days getting shorter, our gardens getting greener, and with the cooler weather, a change in our eating and drinking patterns can also emerge. During the cooler months we tend to spend a lot more time indoors keeping cosy with a fire or heating, after the festivities and chaos of the new year and summer it is a time where we have the opportunity to spend a lot more quality time with our families and coming together over hearty meals, winter sports and their rituals and routines come into full-swing, and it is a time where we may find comfort in the warmer, richer and more satisfying foods and drinks. In fact we can even feel addicted to food during these months.
This combination of craving and getting satisfaction from richer and heartier foods, and living a more sedentary lifestyle in the Winter (often because the number of daylight hours and the weather conditions prevent us from keeping up our healthy eating and exercise routines of the warmer months), for some can be distressing as this period can result in over eating and unwanted winter weight gain.
Of course sitting near the fire or heater with a glass of red may sound a lot more enjoyable than putting on your flimsy lightweight gym gear and bearing the brunt of the icy conditions outside. Likewise, surviving 2-3 hours out in the elements at your child’s or partner’s Winter sports game may seem more achievable with a warm and comforting hot chocolate or purchase from the sausage sizzle. And for those of you who live alone, staying in bed in the warmth and keeping warm with comfort food may seem like a more logical response to the cold weather rather than getting up and putting the fire or heating on just for one person.
It is also important to note that one of the main reasons we may put on weight in the Winter is not just resulting from a change in our exercise habits or from eating more…this weight gain may actually result from the ‘types’ of foods we are consuming during these months, not just the quantity. In fact, some of us eat less in the colder months.
So what can I do?
3 Tips to beat the winter bulge, by recognising emotional eating, and honing into your intuitive eating abilities
- Remember and pay attention to why you are feeling hungry: It is adaptive for us to feel hungry more often and be drawn to calorie rich foods that comfort us and that warm us up in the Winter, but because we do not actually need to hibernate and go without food in the Winter, it is important to take a moment to think about what our hunger or cravings mean, and to find ways to redirect the impulses and urges to go for those rich, creamy, satisfying foods. So ask yourself exploratory questions like: “Am I hungry because I am cold?…how else can I warm myself up?” or “Am I hungry because I am bored and stuck inside while it’s raining?…..What enjoyable activities could I be doing instead?” “Am I feeling lonely and sad, and is this craving for food fulfilling some other need that isn’t currently being met,” and so on.
- Verbalizing out loud what you are craving: It sounds obvious….but by saying our thoughts and feelings out loud we can hear them outside of our own mind. Our thoughts and feelings have a strong relationship to each other and that is why sometimes we feel more passionate, more insecure, or more defensive and so on, when we think or feel about particular memories, interactions or personal ambitions that have meaning for us. So by verbaliisng our thoughts or feelings surrounding food when we feel an urge, we can take the power away from the emotional response that we experience internally, and therefore take the power away from that urge for high calorie food.
- Sit down to eat or drink: Sitting down at a table without the distractions of work, your laptop, the tv, or while driving or on the train is a smarter way to eat. By giving our meal, beverage or snack our full attention, we are not only able to enjoy the flavours and textures more, but this time and focus also draws to our attention the quantities of food we are eating, and by eating Mindfully we allow our stomache the opportunity to feel full at its natural capacity, as opposed to eating quickly and before we realise it, becoming uncomfortably full.
Alyce Mayman, Counsellor and Psychotherapist
If you or someone you love is having issues with emotional eating, restrictive eating or other disturbed eating patterns, please reach out for support and enquire today about engaging Alyce Mayman here at Attuned Psychology in Adelaide. Call us on 08 8361 7008 or email [email protected].
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