The night before Snoledo descended on Sylvania on Jan. 5, I returned from a New Year’s vacation and went directly to the grocery store to stock up on food.
I found myself at the frozen-food aisle, eyeing ice cream. I noticed a swarm of people were doing the same. I found it interesting because I never keep sweets, not even a cup of sugar, in my house. Plus, cold food in frigid weather doesn't make sense. I confess I repeated the purchase this past weekend.
Talking to other Sylvania residents about these past days of temperatures 10 below and 15 below zero found them doing the same.
ProMedica Wellness dietitian Nathan Drendel said there is a biological urge to eat more sweet, creamy, carb-loaded foods during the winter.
“With the sun setting earlier, it sets off a whole cascade of things,” he said. The combination of less vitamin D and the sun, decreases hormones, such as serotonin and melatonin, causing our appetite to increase naturally, he said.
He said that the cold weather also decreases our activity. And what else are we going to do when stuck inside, but … eat. Eating high-sugar, non-nutritious foods, can have a “snowball effect,” which affects your blood sugar, causing you to be hungry again, even though you just ate a large portion of pasta, he said.
And craving ice cream is not a coincidence.
“I always find it extremely unique that we crave ice cream in winter, but the desire for a creamy, sweet product is biological in us,” he said.
Mr. Drendel offers some tips on how to battle that biological urge during these dark winter days:
-- We can’t control the sun, so set a plan, whether it be exercise or doing something positive. Working out makes us feel better and helps us to eat better, or vice versa, reversing the snowball of eating poorly.
-- Plan meals so you’re not reaching for frozen pizza or easy-access high-carb food.
-- Instead of reaching for chips or pretzels when craving a crunchy comfort food, aim for raw veggies and Greek yogurt dip, or unsalted nuts. Watch portion sizes.
-- Satisfy the creamy-food urge by making a casserole or soup that is loaded with vegetables and beans and uses low fat products instead of heavy cream.
--Watch your sugar intake at breakfast. If craving sweets, have a fruit bowl or low sugar yogurt. Add protein -- eggs, sausage or bacon -- to stay full longer. If you eat pancakes, make them whole grain. Skip the syrup and make a fruit compote.
-- Include fatty fish and dairy in your diet, two good sources of vitamin D.
And finally, if you find yourself at the ice cream aisle, go for a small batch product, such as Ben & Jerry’s, instead of a gallon or tub. Share it.
Mr. Drendel offers outreach events in Sylvania as well as cooking demonstrations. For more nutritional advice contact him at 1-855-251-8615.