Have you ever noticed how a certain drop in temperature makes you feel hungry? Or when you travel to a cold place, your hunger levels rise more than in your home town where the temperature is normal. Well, it turns out that it is not only in your head but there is adequate evidence justifying the same! A study by a UK University states, “People face subconscious urges to over-eat at this time of year.” By the way, they were trying to focus on the winter months. Looking deep into the matter, it has been found that humans and animals behave similarly, which brings us to the question, “Why do we eat more in winter?”
The Brain Vs. The Appetite
Before moving on to the ultimate question, “Why do we eat more in winter?” let’s look at the general episodes of hunger one faces and what causes stomach grumbling. It is the hypothalamus which is in charge of monitoring the hunger levels. When you eat, your stomach expands, and a signal is sent to the hypothalamus that it is time to stop.
It is the ghrelin hormone secreted by the stomach, which increases one’s hunger. On the contrary, the leptin hormone originates from the human body’s fat tissues and sends signals that you are now satiated and can stop eating. Hormones known as gastrointestinal peptides, originating from the GI system, control other aspects related to fullness.
When one is under stress, the body feels certain hunger cues under the hormone cortisol. In winter, we have access to less Sunlight, thus decreasing the Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone secretion that can suppress hunger episodes. Subsequently, one starts feeling more hungry and a certain rise in their appetite.
Why Do We Eat More In Winter? – The Reasons
According to dieticians, every person has a different appetite. However, research suggests one’s metabolism tends to increase when cold outside. But why? What are the determining factors? Let’s find out with the explanations as elaborated below!
You Might Be SAD
SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is common around the winter months. With the days going shorter, people find themselves in a difficult condition, dealing with mood swings and unwanted negativity. Researchers believe that winter is all about being merry and celebrating back-to-back holidays. Once everything is over, people find it hard to accept that now, for real, they will have to wait for another year. These people try to find comfort in food out of sadness and despondency. Hence, there is an increase in hunger and rising calorie intake.
Winter Calls For Dehydration
While most people think that the Summer season makes us sweat the most, winters are not completely guilt-free! TBH! The drying heat from the radiators and bundled layers of clothing makes our bodies easily dehydrated. People tend to overeat because the body’s response to dehydration is often confused with hunger. Also, one might be stockpiling! A primitive impulse, just as the cavemen would do. They used to stock up their food ration for the upcoming harsh winter months.
Changing Circadian Rhythms
According to a review published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience – altering Circadian rhythms, i.e., the fewer hours of light during the Winter months, affects human hormones. The leptin and ghrelin levels fluctuate with the change in seasons. These are responsible for controlling the hunger levels in humans.
The Cold Makes Everyone Act As A Couch Potato
Sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn during winter is a cozier option than heading out for a walk. People in winter try their level best to avoid going out in the chilly weather. During these months, there is a sudden decrease in movement, shorter days, and more free time as people tend to limit their whereabouts within indoor premises. All this free time gets one to sit idly, prepare against the cold, and eat more.
An Overview Of The Winter Diet In Animals
Now that you know, “Why do we eat more in Winter?” Let’s help you with an overview of the Winter diet in animals. The Winter weather and decreasing temperatures act as an encouragement for the animals to eat more. It is some sort of survival instinct, especially for the ones who live outside in the cold.
Wild animals during the Winter period are the most vulnerable to low food stock in the forest ground. In response to cold, these animals shed their fur, minimize regular whereabouts in the cold, and even form fat deposits in certain parts of their body. Animals like brown bears and marmots are seen building internal reserves in their bodies. This natural insulating layer offers the right protection from the cold.
So that is all about us helping you answer your question, “Why do we eat more in Winter?” Remember, health comes first. Now that you know that it is not your appetite but your brain trying to play tricks on your metabolism, make sure to have your meals defined and avoid those extra winter gains.