Winter weight gain frequently comes with the winter season. I have heard repeatedly from clients that all they want to do is keep eating because they feel so “blue” this winter. Occasionally, the clients suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but sometimes clients are just feeling down in the dumps because the winter is so long in the Midwest. So, barring a vacation to the tropics or moving out of state, here are a few steps that can be taken to lift your spirits. Hopefully you can stop inappropriate eating and stop winter weight gain at the same time.
Catch the rays when possible to help your mood and fight winter weight gain
Even the gloomiest areas in the Midwest will occasionally be sunny, so be sure to capitalize on it even if you need to bundle up to do so. Take a walk outside in those rays of sunshine and you will elevate your mood because the exercise and sunshine will affect the balance of key neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, and endorphins.
Consider blue light therapy when you can’t find sunshine
Along the lines of catching natural light rays, researchers are aware that certain light spectrum, such as blue light, seems to help alleviate SAD. Many free-standing blue lights are available for easy purchase online. When it’s a particularly bleak winter, these lights can be of benefit.
Check your vitamin D levels
Many Americans have inadequate blood vitamin D levels. Research supports that getting your blood vitamin D levels in the right range is ammunition in fighting seasonal affective disorder. Bleak days and lots of warm bulky clothes limit the body’s ability to make the so-called “sunshine” vitamin, which can be produced by the body when sun shines on a compound on our skin. If we cannot make it, we are able to supplement our diet with vitamin D. During winter months, dosages in the 1000-1200 IU range are probably safe for most people who have limited sun exposure. Read here for more information on meeting vitamin D requirements. Read here for more information on meeting vitamin D requirements.
Control your eating environment, which always helps prevent weight gain anytime of year
While waiting for spring weather and freedom from the winter doldrums, don’t undo previous successful weight loss with binge eating just because of SAD or depression. Control your eating environment at home by ridding it of high temptation and high calorie foods.
Stock your kitchen with healthy, low sodium soups and entrees
They can nourish and “comfort” you appropriately through the rest of the winter. Increase your consumption of fruits, veggies, and lentils to increase your anti-oxidants and fiber. Don’t be afraid of opting for frozen fruits and veggies at this time of year. They are just as nutritious as the fresh varieties which are harder to buy in the winter. When the warm weather comes, you will be happy that you did not pile on the weight due to winter blues.
Here’s to wrapping up winter. It’s almost March! Remember, an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By watching your diet this winter, you will be in a better position both mentally and physically for spring when it springs!