As soon as the temperature drops, so does your willpower. All of a sudden, all you can see, smell, taste is your favourite winter treats. Creamy pastas, piles of mashed potato, hot chocolate, movie snacks, baked goodies for dessert… the list goes on!
Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a serve of your favourite winter go-tos. But if you feel like you’re controlled by comfort eating, rather than the other way around, I’m here to help.
Why do we fall into the trap of comfort eating over winter?
There are several possible factors at play here – so let’s look at the most common:
- Seasonal depression or SAD – this condition pops up over wintertime thanks to the reduction in sunlight exposure. Like any form of depression, you may find yourself eating more, less, or a mix of the two. Even if you’re eating less overall, you’re more likely to reach for energy-dense comfort foods that give you feel-good hormones and chemicals as a natural form of relief.
- Colder weather – the lower temperatures and darker days could signal to your brain that it’s time to seek out some energy-dense food to keep you warm in harsh conditions. Unfortunately, this instinct can override the obvious fact that we have plenty of access to food all year round!
- Emotional eating – you may find yourself lonely, bored or stressed with the colder weather. And one of the easiest ways to distract yourself from these uncomfortable feelings? Delicious, delicious food!
- Comfort foods are more visible – it seems obvious, but at this time of year, you just see more comfort food! The grocery stores are putting comfort foods on display, fast food stores bring out seasonal specials, and the social media algorithm delivers you videos of over-the-top foods that leave you craving treats.
But while these all feed into comfort eating (see what I did there?), that doesn’t make it inevitable. You can navigate the colder season without coming out 1-2 sizes up from where you started.
How to tackle comfort eating before it becomes a problem
My top tip? Work the system!
Understand what it is that your body needs, because if you can satisfy that without a massive bowl of pasta or a calorie-packed dessert every night, you’re onto a winner.
Whenever you can, pre-empt the craving or comfort that you’re seeking. Find yourself reaching for the bread and butter after dinner? Get yourself a wholemeal sourdough or rye bread and use a high quality butter or ghee. Have a sweet tooth? Add a couple of squares of high-quality dark chocolate at the end of your meal – before the dessert cravings hit.
Nail your portion sizes
This is two-fold. Firstly, if you are going to indulge in some stodgy carbs or decadent dessert, you want to have enough to enjoy (without going overboard!)
But it’s also about eating enough the rest of the time. So many women are under-eating, which is why they go crazy with cravings and late-night snacking. But if you get your portion sizes right from the beginning, you can stop the cycle of under-eating and over-indulging before it begins.
No idea where to start with portion sizes? I’ve got you covered with my Chaos To Calm Balanced Meal Formula – download your free copy here.
Have easy options ready to go
Another common problem with winter is that by the time you get home, it’s dark. So not only are you exhausted from your busy day, but your body is also telling you to throw in the towel and head to bed! So you’re more likely to reach for convenient comfort options.
What’s the alternative? I love going for either a grazing plate or a standard meat + 3 veg option. There’s nothing wrong with this iconic Anglo approach to food! You can use different herbs and spices to change the flavour profile as you like, then add some fat or oil to boost satiety and satisfaction.
Unsure what to have when you’re exhausted by the time dinner rolls around? I’ve got 10 easy meals for you right here.
Don’t forget your lifestyle tweaks!
When we talk about nutrition and food, you know I can’t skip the point of lifestyle’s influence. By sticking to your basics – good sleep, stress management, regular physical activity – you reduce your chance of food cravings. But you also reduce the impact of comfort food if you DO reach for it, thanks to the benefits of insulin sensitivity.
If you’re struggling with one (or all) of these lifestyle pillars, it’s time to get them addressed.
Struggling to keep your weight under control – no matter what you eat?
The key here is an approach that takes into account everything going on for you: your nutrient levels, your hormones, your health concerns, your lifestyle, and how your body’s metabolism functions. That’s where personalised nutrition is a game-changer.
It’s what I used to release 18kg over 14 weeks (plus I’ve maintained that loss for 2 years and counting!)
If you’re sick of quick-fix, one-size-fits-all options that don’t work for you and your body, I’m here to help. Weight loss might seem impossible in your 40s and beyond, but it doesn’t have to be! By taking a holistic and tailored approach, we can help you to not only look like a million bucks, but also feel amazing in your body.
Book in for a free discovery call today, and we can explore how I can help you to reboot your body and feel good again.