EATING TOO MANY WINTER CARBS?
I was pounding down some chips and pretzels the other day when I suddenly realized what I was doing. Not that I never eat those things, but I realized at that moment that I've been hitting the bread and snacks pretty hard this past month or two.
Have you found yourself eating more carbs the past few weeks??
If so, you're not alone. Many people seem to crave more bread, pasta, snacks and sweets in the wintertime.
The shorter days of winter means less exposure to sun and subsequently lower production of vit-D. Serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical, requires Vit-D for its production. This means that your serotonin levels can really take a dive in the winter. This, at least in part, explains why some people get Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), mild depression or even just crankiness during the winter months.
Eating carbohydrates creates a rush of serotonin in the brain, which enhances our mood. So munching on winter carbs is a means of self-medicating in an effort to feel better.
This may elevate our mood temporarily but it comes at a price - extra pounds, fluctuations in blood sugar and a stress to your insulin/glucose regulatory system.
So, What Can You Do To Increase Your Serotonin Levels, Enhance Your Mood, and Help You Avoid those Winter Carb Cravings?
- Exercise is a sure way to promote healthy serotonin production and manage mood.
- I know that it's cold outside, but get some sun. Even just a short walk outside can help boost your Vit-D and serotonin.
- Most of us should be taking Vit-D supplements. Have you had your levels checked??
- In a study involving 3,500 people, meditation alleviated symptoms of depression on par with conventional anti-depressants.
- Research shows that serotonin levels can also be dialed up by simply thinking happy thoughts. Rick Hanson, in his book "Hardwiring Happiness," recommends a practice that he calls "Taking in the Good."
- Take just a few moments to think about something that makes you happy - an event, person or situation...it can be anything. Then, instead of letting is pass, purposefully let that sensation linger for a few moments. Open yourself up to the sensations, absorb it, and feel it spread throughout your body. Try this a few times a day and see if it bolsters your mood, and helps you to simmer down on the snacking.
Help put winter's last gasp behind you by getting your carb cravings and mood on a better track. The days are getting longer, the snow is behind us (hopefully), and the warmth and sunshine of spring are on their way.
Dr. Russell Charno