The temperature is dropping, but our cravings for yummy comfort foods are growing by the minute. Warm soups with crusty bread, cheesy pasta (actually, anything with a carb in it) rich, chocolatey desserts… the list goes on.
But why does this happen? Here are three reasons why we tend to crave comfort foods during the chilly winter months.
1. Survival mode, baby
At the very core of it, craving comfort foods when the weather gets cold is thought to be rooted in our OG survival instincts.
Back in caveman days when winter would hit – food levels and sources would become scarce. The humans who increased their body weight were the ones most likely to make it through, so our bodies are programmed to want to eat more as the temperature drops.
Despite supermarkets and Uber Eats replacing the need to hunt for our meals, this protection instinct seems to have hung around.
2. Vitamin D goes MIA
Generally, winter means less sun and less sun means less Vitamin D.
This essential nutrient plays a key role in regulating our moods, and a drop in your vitamin D levels can lead to winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Comfort foods, especially those rich in carbohydrates, can trigger the production of our happiness hormones (like dopamine and serotonin), giving us a nice little mood boost when we need it most.
And, side note: it’s good to remember that food has the power to improve our moods in so many different ways. Check out a list of foods that do the job here.
3. Seasonal changes in our hormones
Speaking of hormones, did you know cold weather can affect more than just your mood?
The decrease in daylight triggers the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and can also increase feelings of hunger. Plus, colder temperatures prompt our bodies to produce more ghrelin, the "hunger hormone," making us feel more inclined to reach for comforting and filling foods.
So, those dreams about carbs for breakfast, lunch and dinner? That’s actually just your body trying to look out for you as it prepares to shiver its way through the next season.
Cook the pasta, eat the bread, drink the hot chocolate. Give yourself permission to enjoy richer, heavier foods and find joy in it. It’s exactly what food is for.