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Why is it so hard to eat right during the winter?

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Good question.

Easy answer: Winter makes us want to hibernate.

That must be why December is Seasonal Affective Disorder month.

Huh?

Me not bear. Me not live in cave.

Yes, we (homo sapiens) have a vestigial hibernation cycle that makes us crave fat and carbs during the winter.

In extreme cases, this cycle is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form or clinical depression that’s more common up north than it is here in Greater Jacksonville but still very much in evidence here.

Less sunlight and colder temperatures change your brain chemistry so that you feel lethargic and depressed.

Your reactions are slower, so you load up on sweets and fatty foods to moderate your mood.

About ten pounds later, you feel better – until you realize that your favorite jeans won’t zip.

And then you eat some more.

Okay, so if my clothes feel too tight, it’s because they really are?

Yep, and you’ve been too depressed to notice.

Now that it’s officially dark by about five o’clock in the evening, you’re starting to notice things you haven’t before – like all the empty potato chip bags around your bedroom waste basket.

And how that half-gallon of butter pecan ice cream you just bought got you through dinner last night and breakfast this morning.

Seriously

When the days get shorter in the fall, we start eating differently.

No more fresh summer salads, fresh tuna, and other light foods that complement our higher spring and summer metabolism.

Two ways to fight SAD

  1. Get as much sunlight and outdoor exercise as possible to help stimulate production of vitamin D in your skin.
  2. Eat better.

It’s just like Dr. Oz® told you

Metabolism – the speed at which our bodies run – varies with the seasons.

The farther north you live, in general, the slower you run.

Eating leaner, denser proteins, low-fat dairy products, fresh vegetables (especially leafy greens) and good carbs from whole grains like quinoa flax, rice (including pasta) and legumes helps speed up your metabolism so that you have more energy.

If effect, we duplicate the good effects of long summer days by synthesizing sunshine inside our bodies.

We in GreaterJax™ are very lucky.

The long Florida growing season means that our winter diet can be much more varied than many other places in the country, but anybody can eat the way we do.

Sometimes called the “Mediterranean” diet, a varied, lighter diet helps the body use food energy much more efficiently and keeps electrolytes, the bio-chemicals that help regulate brain activity and heart function, balanced.

Your blood sugar stays lower. Your blood pressure stays lower. You don't crave fats, sweets and caffeine as much.

Have a salad for lunch instead of a burger.

For dinner, try seafood with a tomato-based sauce and no pasta.

And drink some damn orange juice. There’s plenty of it.

Celebrate the holidays responsibly

Load up on your favorites on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, then go back to making your own sunshine with lighter proteins and fresh vegetables.

You’ll miss the worst of your winter blues and save yourself the price of bigger blue jeans.

Help fight SAD – eat right for winter

-30-

©2013 All rights reserved.

OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact: kt.4examiner@yahoo.com

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