Why do they call them Comfort Foods?
If you eat too many of them, your clothes can get really UNcomfortable! How can we fight back against the urge to eat carbs, carbs, carbs in the winter?
1. It’s REAL. Let’s start by exploring the science. As it turns out, your craving for carbs in the winter is REAL. When your body doesn’t get enough Vitamin D from sunshine, and therefore doesn’t make enough Serotonin, you look for other ways to get a lift. And carbs can provide a quick “fix” to elevate your mood and fight off the winter blues. So yes, you really DO want more carbs in the winter!
2. Eat better carbs. So, what to do??? One option is to eat carbs, but opt for healthier ones. Try sweet potatoes instead of white. Or whole grain bread instead of over-processed white. Maybe oatmeal instead of a muffin. And popcorn can be a fiber-filled snack in place of cookies or crackers. You’ll still get some carbs, but these options take longer for your body to process, so they’ll stick with you longer.
3. Eat some fat. (Insert gasp here!) If you’re like me, you’ve spent most of your adult life thinking that fat in foods was the dietary equivalent of pushing old ladies or throwing your trash out the car window—it just wasn’t DONE. Time to start unlearning that idea. Fat in your food plays a number of important roles in appetite control: your brain feels more satisfied by foods that have some fat in them, and since they take longer to digest, you’ll feel fuller for longer when you eat some fat. So it’s time to start allowing some fat back into your diet!
4. Eat SOME fat (part 2). (Continue to gasp!) I just want to be clear here: please do not go out and order a large fry because Becky said so. Not all fats are created equally, so you need to eat the ones that give you all of the health benefits—vitamin absorption, cell health, nerve health—without clogging your arteries. Here’s a great article on the different kinds of fats, and which ones you should be reaching for. Think avocados, olive oil, and nuts.
5. “Backload” your carbs. Here’s an interesting idea. Recent studies show that when you eat carbs might be as important as how many carbs you’re consuming. This health trend suggests that you backload your carbs—save them for your evening meal, so that your body can burn them while you sleep. In essence, they recommend eating protein and fats for breakfast, carbs in the form of fruits and vegetables at lunch, and whole grains as part of dinner and an evening snack. I’m intrigued. I’ve long heard that a breakfast full of simple sugars (think donuts and pancakes) will leave you feeling hungry all day. So maybe there’s something here . . . .
6. Water, Water, Water. Friends, I feel like I’ve heard most of my adult life that often when we reach for food, we’re actually thirsty. Turns out, it’s true. Before grabbing that snack, try drinking a large glass of water (or hot tea!) and waiting 15 minutes before eating. You might find out that, with your thirst quenched, you don’t need those pretzels after all!
Stay sunny everybody!
Becky Eason, PhD, is an Associate Certified Coach and Certified Leadership Coach. She would love to come with you on your journey for wellness and a happy heart. Learn more on her website: wequestforwellness.com