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Why are we drawn to sweets in the cold season?

In the summer we eat salads and vegetables, and in the winter pies and cookies - what switches our body into the mode of winter craving for sweets?


Evolutionarily, it happened that in winter it is better to store subcutaneous fat there and not skip calories - hunger was a real threat until recently. So the craving for fatty and sweet food in winter is primarily our evolutionary firmware.

Light

In the fall and winter, daylight hours shorten and we get less daylight, which can cause seasonal affective disorder (SAD).


Then our body tries to compensate for this condition with food high in carbohydrates and sugar. In addition to the hedonistic aspect of tasting sweets, there is also a biochemical one - sweets cause the release of insulin, and in this case, insulin is good! The fact is that insulin helps cells to consume glucose more actively, as well as neurons to form serotonin and dopamine - neurotransmitters that invigorate the brain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7260070/

Warm

In addition to light, we lack heat. Here food thermogenesis comes to the aid of the body - a process when the body spends energy to digest food and as a result warms up. Here, it is not necessary to eat exactly sweet food - protein food has the greatest effect.

In combination, these 2 main factors make us want to eat more and eat sweets!

To reduce cravings for sweets, we recommend:

☛ do not skip full meals - when we are not hungry, resisting the urge to eat sweets is a little easier than when the stomach is empty;

☛ build a diet around plant and protein foods - this will promote the well-being of the intestinal microbiota (and ours, as a result) and give enough energy.

☛ walk and do sports to keep warm in other ways;

☛ feel a craving for sweets - try squatting (or other motor activity) first. This slightly mobilizes own glucose reserves;

☛ Get plenty of rest, and even better, go to bed earlier and get up later. A sleepy brain craves sweet and fatty food to a lesser extent and is better subject to volitional control by the frontal cortex of the hemispheres;

☛ Do you feel that it is not just a craving for sweets, but you lack the strength and desire for simple household activities? Seek help from a psychologist, because SAD can significantly impair the quality of life.

Ministry of Health of Ukraine

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