As we move into autumn and the days get shorter and cooler, we may find that our appetite increases and we want to eat more.
This is completely normal. With drops in temperature, our bodies have to fight harder to keep warm as they need more calories to produce energy. When this happens, our mind signals the brain to put on more clothes and eat more calorie-loaded food.
The problem is, this can happen even if we don’t actually feel hungry.
So, in this article I’m going to show you how to stop unnecessary unhealthy snacking through the winter and which healthy snacks you can rely on to give yourself a boost.
The problem with snacking
Whilst gaining some extra weight in the winter when we had little heating and faced long, cold winters, made sense for our ancestors, now it’s not so necessary. Plus, we now have an abundance of food and packaged snacks which our ancestors didn’t have, so over eating in the winter can cause unwanted weight gain, negative affects on our mood and health problems.
In addition, the longer evenings, lack of daylight and vitamin D, may mean we eat out of boredom or because of seasonal depression or stress. A snack can give us a quick mood or energy boost when we are feeling low.
Snacking isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes we need a little extra to keep us going. We just have to be mindful to choose nutrient-dense snacks.
The problem is, many of us reach for a snack high in sugar to keep us going. OK, you may get a quick burst of energy, but they’ll provide zero nutritional value and the crash that follows will keep you in the loop of wanting more.
While the occasional indulgence is totally fine, it is important to get into the habit of choosing healthier snacks.
Making healthy snack choices
If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know I am a big advocate for eating well-balanced regular meals.
Choose good quality protein like organic meat, fish, eggs, tofu, or beans. Instead of refined carbohydrates, go for complex carbs like whole grains and vegetables. This will help to control blood sugar levels and reduce cravings.
Get in the habit of cooking from scratch and eating at regular intervals, and this should limit your cravings.
When you are craving a snack, first off, ask yourself if you’re really hungry or simply bored or thirsty?
We tend to drink less water in the colder months yet still get dehydrated due to central heating and layers of clothes. Try drinking a glass of warm or room temperature water or a cup of herbal tea. Wait 20 minutes and see if you’re still hungry.
It’s a good idea is to have healthy snacks already prepared in your fridge and pantry. That way, if you need something quick, you have some good choices on hand.
This is where meal planning comes in. Plan, clean, and chop vegetables and have them ready. This way, if you find yourself hungry, you have them ready without having to go for a bag of crisps or a bar of chocolate.
I would recommend limiting snacks like crisps, biscuits or chocolate in the house. If the unhealthy snacks are harder to get, the less likely you are to eat them.
Healthy snack ideas
Here are some healthy snack ideas. Next time you shop, stock up with these essentials so you have them on hand.
- A handful of nuts and fruit
- Avocado on sourdough bread or an oat cake
- Hummus with carrot and celery sticks
- Coconut yoghurt with fruit and nuts
- Hard-boiled egg with spinach
- Sliced apple with almond butter
- Oat cake with sardines
- Chicken pieces (organic, not processed chicken) with a salad.
It’s totally normal to want to eat more in the winter, but by choosing these options you will not only stay in control of your weight, you will look and feel better too.
As with every other time of year, it’s also important to keep moving! This has the added benefit of warming up your body. So get outside in the morning and get your steps in when you can.
If you want to avoid unnecessary snacking and improve your energy from the inside out then get in touch. I work with women on their health and fitness so they look and feel better in their forties and beyond.