Published on November 4th, 2012 | by Key Reads0
Craving Comfort Food: Why It Happens & What To Do
With fall in full swing and the cold weather setting in, you may just find yourself craving comfort food. Traditional fall and winter staples such as hearty soups, dense pastries, and carb- filled casseroles begin dancing in our dreams as soon as the weather dips down under 60 degrees. What may surprise you is that there is more to these cravings than just commercials or memories of winters past. There is actually a lot of science to you comfort food cravings.
Why do we crave comfort foods?
Some scientists believe our craving comfort food in the fall and winter months may be due to genetics. Historically, light meals with fresh vegetables and fruits were simply not available to our ancestors in the winter months. Also, food in general was scarcer, so calorie dense foods like root vegetables were a boon to early humanity as they kept our ancestors from starving to death.
Another reason we may be craving comfort foods in the colder months may be psychological, not genetic. The change in seasons affects our biological clocks and our brain chemistry, too. Less sunlight during the day may lead to a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to a depressed mood. Being cooped up inside can also lead to mild depression, eating calorie rich foods or carbohydrates has been shown to temporarily relieve these symptoms.
Craving Comfort Foods: What to do about it
So how do you keep the pounds off during winter when genetics, brain chemistry, and the weather are working against you? Here are some easy tips you can follow:
1. Make substitutions: You can substitute lower-fat milk for cream in things like sauces, soups, and pastries. Many baked goods can also be made with healthy substitutions in their recipes like apple sauce or chia seeds. You can find out more about chia seeds in this post.
2. Avoid cream based soups and dishes: Soups are actually really great for you. The high water content means they make you feel fuller with less calories, but cream soups can pack on the pounds. Opt for tomato or broth based soups instead.
3. Bake instead of fry: If you are craving fried comfort foods, try them baked instead. Fried chicken, french fries, and many other traditionally fried foods still taste wonderful baked, and they will make you weigh a lot less too.