The next few months are typically some of the most difficult to get through, especially if you’ve set a weight loss goal for yourself. What it is about this season that makes losing weight so challenging? Have you ever wondered why as soon as the cold weather strikes, you find yourself eating larger meals and taking more trips to the fridge between work breaks?
Well according to Dr. Neal Barnard, board-certified psychiatrist and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, fall and winter weight gain is so common because your appetite actually increases during the cooler months.
“It is a common experience for bodyweight to increase as winter approaches, which is largely because our appetites increase as the days become shorter,” says Dr. Barnard. “This is what you can think of as your ‘inner squirrel’ taking over, looking for food, and eating and storing it away in anticipation of winter.”
Although nowadays it’s easier to get access to all kinds of foods year-round (instead of strictly in season), Dr. Barnard says that we eat more and eat faster this time of year because we are still programmed to build up some body fat before wintertime.
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Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Not only do you experience an increase in appetite this time of year, but you also may find yourself putting on a few extra pounds because of the typical shift in lifestyle.
“Your usual ways of dealing with weight gain are less available to you because it’s harder to exercise outdoors when the temperatures dip,” says Dr. Barnard. “Holiday festivities keep food in front of you almost 24/7: at work, in stores, and even on television.”
It’s important to not let this discourage you, because not only is weight gain around this time of year extremely common, but there are also ways you can stick to your weight loss goals if that’s what you want!
Dr. Barnard shares a few suggestions for how to avoid holiday weight gain, which includes sticking to plant-based meals when you can, focusing on the “healthy” side dishes at holiday parties like butternut squash soup, greens, sweet potatoes, and …….