Why cold weather makes us crave comfort food

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The only thing better than time with family and friends during the holidays is the food. It seems like when the temperatures drop outside, comfort food seems so much more enticing. We talked to a dietitian to find out why we crave comfort food when it is cold outside.

“Instinctually we want something that’s going to warm us up,” says Augusta University Health dietitian Sarah Tankersley.

Tankersley says it is a multi-part answer as to why we crave comfort food during the winter months.

“There is possibly some sort of evolutionary interest there so we know a lot of animals today will hibernate during the wintertime so they build up their fat stores to make sure that they’re going to make it through the winter,” Tankersley points out.

However, more than likely, it iss a mental game more than anything else.

“We know that there are a ton of holidays, football parties, Super Bowl, all of those things that kind of revolve around food and a lot of things that are fun for us to do that are also going to involve us bringing food and having a great time with our family so it may be more that we’re eating more because there are more opportunities for us to eat more,” Tankersley explains.

Also, during the winter, the days are shorter.

“It’s dark when you get home so one of our instincts is just to snack a little bit more,” Tankersley says.

She shares the following advice on how to enjoy yourself, still eat the food you love, while you maintain your weight, calorie intake and sustain your health.

“I’m a big proponent food is not your enemy and there’s no such thing as a bad food or a good food. All food is food and it’s energy to fuel our bodies,” Tankersley says. “There’s no such thing as you can’t eat that or you can’t have that. Maybe during the holiday seasons don’t let Christmas or Thanksgiving go more than just one or two days and maybe think, ok, well it’s Thanksgiving Day, I’m going to have a great time with my family, I’m not going to worry about what I eat, but then the next day, start thinking about that again.”

She encourages everyone to drink lots of water get moving with some physical activity.

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