Like many of you, I am now at my race weight. I was thinking the other day, it is really easy for me to eat healthy foods and control portions. I’m not depriving myself of baked goods – but – I control portion size and/or decrease another treat somewhere else. I know how to eat healthy, I’m doing it. The best part is my current eating pattern doesn’t take iron will or starvation.
Eating this way is easy for me – I could keep it up forever.
The problem is I’ve said the last sentence to myself in previous fall and winter seasons. It seems that the multitude of changes that occur in winter create havoc for my nutrition resolve.
Talking about the issue to athletes showing up for the Sunday group ride, others express the same problem happens to them. We began theorizing what changes in fall and winter to make us feel like we cannot control the foods we eat or portion sizes? Why is it that many of us gain weight in the winter? Here are some of the thoughts:
1. For many, exercise volume decreases not only in sport but in life as well. There are fewer long rides, no lawns to mow and less walking about outside.
2. As daylight hours decrease and it gets colder, most of us get less sunlight exposure and Vitamin D. Certainly less daylight can have a serious affect on people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but does this change affect everyone’s appetite? Or, are there people that don’t suffer from SAD but are more affected by short days? Do hormones play a role?
3. Some sources note that low levels of Vitamin D cause weight gain. Should we supplement with Vitamin D through winter? It is possible to overdose on D, so caution is needed.
4. Do we eat more processed, lower nutrient foods in winter, which causes our bodies to crave more food to make up the deficit?
5. Experts say that cold weather increases the appetite for foods that warm the body quickly, like sugars and carbohydrates. Cold salads are less appealing. Creamy clam chowder and buttered cornbread is a much more pleasing choice when it’s chilly out.
This short list is a start. The big question is what to do about it? What changes can I make – or plan to make – that will keep my winter weight gain in the three-pound range rather than six? I’m also curious as to why some people never seem to struggle with weight in the winter – what is different about their body chemistry?
Good questions. I don’t have all the answers.
I will say one thing I’ve done this summer is change from blue cheese dressing on my salads to either balsamic vinaigrette or olive oil and (my best summer discovery) Lucini Dark Cherry Balsamico Vinegar. I love the taste and it doesn’t take much to give a salad great flavor. I believe I’m consuming fewer fat calories on my salads and the calories I am consuming contain the good fats. Do these good fats decrease appetite as well? I’m not sure.
Coming from a rich German heritage, it will be a challenge for me to figure out how to keep the winter weight gain minimized. For some reason, which I can’t explain, I think I can do it this year. I feel more confident than ever before.
I hope I’m right.
If I learn anything along the way, I’ll be sure to let you know.
PS...Thanks for patiently waiting for a new blog while the Active Community pages were updated.