7 winning ways to beat those winter cravings!
When it’s cold and the sun is hiding, quite frankly it is difficult to get out of bed let alone think about cooking healthy food and exercising! However, during these dark and cold months it’s crucial you stay on top of your body and it’s bio-feedback signals. Tell tale signs that things are out of balance: fatigue, tiredness, sadness, strong cravings for stodge and chocolate, low motivation and a general feeling of malaise!
Well worry not! The Fat Controller is on hand to give you my best tips to help stave off low mood and a winter midriff
First thing to ask. Is it my brain or my belly that is craving something? If it is really hunger – don’t wait! Choose wisely before you get too hungry. When you are starving all bets are off and no amount of will power will do.
If it is a ‘brain’ craving then ask yourself: am I stressed? am I tired? am I bored? Do I feel sad or lonely? Try one of my wining ways first before you give in and it may just do the trick!
But first a little bit of why we feel like this during the darker months.
During the winter months we are living our lives under a light bulb! This never ending light fools our bodies into thinking it’s the lighter months – it’s during these months that we ‘stock pile’ our food – hence our deep cravings for stodge and starch! This acutally means we have higher levels of Serotonin (generally associated with depression when it’s low). However, higher levels of Serotonin will mean that Dopamine levels are lower. Dopamine is a brain chemical associated with drive and motivation!!! Ring any bells?
So this formula of little sleep and lots of sugar from starch can signify the stress of what would be ‘mating season’ and creates Serotonin resistance and you can end up feeling REALLY sad. You then end up, due to the bodies need for homestasis, with low Serotonin levels and your hand in the biscuit barrel!!
Sleep normalises Serotonin levels (it’s like a hormonal reset button) becuase the Melatonin produced during sleep can only be made by using up the availale Serotonin. Hence why when we are depressed we want to sleep all the time. We then end up medicating on sugar in times of stress. The Insulin created after scoffing that chocolate bar produces Serotonin from protein. Despite what we think – our bodies think we are living in perpetual Summer and our brain chemistry and hormones our now out of kilter!
So what can we do? Well here are my top 7 winning ways to help yourself from those winter blues and cravings:
- Sleep! Get to bed between 10 and 11 if you can. By keeping the lights low in the evenings and avoiding bright compter, tablet screens, phones and TVs you can slowly wind down and allow your body to release Melatonin and ease you into sleep. Sleep in a cave! Turn out all the lights even get rid of blinking alarm clocks and digital timers.
- Get walking! This lowers our stress hormones – especially when we are tired, working too late and eating too many starches! Walking, especially outside in daylight hours will help lower Cortisol and the sunlight exposure to aid production of Vitamin D3 the sunshine hormone! Just 30 mins can really lift mood and banish cravings!
- High intensity short burst movements can also help lower stress levels. Studies show that this type of movement is how our ancestors would have moved when high stress levels were present – they literally would have had to run for their lives – if they escaped and survived then the surge of Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone would have put them in an Anabolic state of growth – a good place to be! So just 10-20 mins or a series of 1 min bursts during the day of an activity such as interval sprints, squat jumps or body weight moves to failure could do the trick.
- Higher levels of Serotonin from all the starch and sugar will eventually deplete dopamine leaving you feeling less than energised and focused. Try a cup of Hot Cocoa, phone a friend, hold your partners hand or think about having sex with your dream partner!!!! – this can be enough to help boost flagging Dopamine levels.
- Eating a clean protein and vegetables at every meal and have 5-6 mini meals every 2-4 hours during waking hours will help ensure even balanced blood sugar levels. This wil ensure your energy levels remain stable and your are going to have more energy and motivation to make better food and exercise choices. You can choose nut butter and fruit as snacks and fish, eggs or chicken for main meals with plenty of greens for fibre. One of my favourite standbys is a Cocoa spinach smoothie
- Resistance training in the gym or at home with good heavy weights will help improve your sel-esteem as well and improve your metabolism. This makes your metabolism overall more efficient at dealing with blood sugars. Even just a short session comprising of full body movements such as a lunge to press but pushing yourself to the point of rest!
- A little meditation and relaxation during the day or before bed can really help calm the nervous system down ready for sleep. You can use thistime to do a bit of visualisation. This could be the movie of your ideal life. This will increase your feel good hormones, help you shape a better future with feelings of positivity and therefore enable you to drift in a fitful and peaceful relaxation!
Do you have any tried and tested tools you use to help stave off cravings? I would love to hear them!
Big love, small tummies!
Jill – The Fat Controller