When skies turn grey in the winter, our moods can follow suit. This is often due to the effects of a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Referred to by the acronym “SAD”, Seasonal Affective Disorder is not a simple case of the winter blues. Rather, SAD is a recognized form of depression that is influenced by reduced quantities of sunlight, and usually occurs during fall and winter. People’s biological clocks are thrown off during these seasons because the days get dark sooner and daylight savings occurs. All of this change creates an adverse effect on our moods, sleep and even our hormonal levels. It can also cause us to eat more, a possible explanation as to why we gain weight in winter.
According to Psychology Today, Seasonal Affective Disorder affects 10 million Americans. It has been found to occur four times more likely in women than men, and begins sometime between the ages of 18 and 30. Because symptoms of SAD can become severe enough to influence a person’s ability to enjoy life, 6 percent of those affected are hospitalized for treatment.
SAD is suspected to be one of the reasons why we gain weight in winter. While other, more typical types of depression may cause weight loss, one in seven people say that Seasonal Affective Disorder triggers strong cravings for Complex Carbohydrates, like pasta and bread. Scientist states that light interferes with the neurotransmitters in the brain which affect mood and food cravings. Carbohydrates cause a rise in the quantity of an amino acid called tryptophan, resulting in the release of seratonin into the brain. Seratonin is known to elevate the mood, therefore, carb cravings may be our subconscious way of trying to help fend off feelings of depression. But Carbohydrates are also famous for expanding the waistline, so this is one direct correlation between SAD and winter weight gain.
Genetics also play a role in our consumption of more food in the wintertime. Our ancestors knew that winter meant food shortages, therefore, eating more food for the storage of additional calories was an instinctive reaction to the changing of the seasons. When the Cavemen ate large quantities of food to stave off starvation in the upcoming freezing months, they were programming us to do the same, so we subconsciously relax our strict diets in preparation for winter.
Another logical reason for winter weight gain is that it’s COLD out there! Stepping out the door for a run in the freezing cold isn’t quite as enjoyable as when done on a beautiful Summer day. Leaving the gym in a sweat will chill to the bone when the temperatures are near freezing, and fitting exercise in when the kids are busy with after school activities leaves parents precious little time for themselves.
Try to remain conscious of trigger behaviors during the Fall and Winter seasons to help avoid the pitfalls of the holidays. If you find that you are not able to tackle weight loss on your own, help is readily available at The Bariatric Experts. We have options and financing to enable you to live the healthy lifestyle you aspire to achieve. Contact us today for a consultation.