It’s November – the weather is getting colder, and the waistline if getting wider. Sigh.
Every year, around this time, I have a mental, physical, existential showdown with myself – usually in front of a full-length mirror, arms akimbo, and scrutinizing myself like Gordon Ramsay in any episode of Kitchen Nightmares.
But I mean we all do the occasional self-inspection in front of the mirror right? It’s is kind of like biologically programmed in us; thanks to our sexy evolving brains, we have the ability to self-reflect and inspect. Ever since early primates discovered the watering hole and recognized themselves in the reflection, humans have learned to use mirrors as a tool for self-examination. But it can be a dangerous thing, especially if you become obsessed and fixated on all the flaws and imperfections, which is what happens to me around this time of the year.
A quick Google search of “winter season+overeating+sad” brought up 5,520,000 results. Seriously! There are over 5.5 million items of literature (and I use this term loosely) on the subject of why people like to eat more in the winter time then feel like shit afterward. In a previously published post on this blog, I talked about my issues with overeating in the past and how I still, even now, struggle with it from time to time. Though I am eating a lot healthier than I was 10 years ago, the cravings for carbs and junk food get particularly bad around the winter season.
Looking through the many articles, I found there were 2 common reasons why people overeat during the winter months: SAD-related symptoms and more dark days triggering food hoarding.
Is It SAD, That I Want CARBS!?!?
According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD, or Seasonal Affective Dissorder, is a mood disorder related to the change of seasons. People who are said to be affected by it often experience difficulty waking up in the morning, nausea, tendency to oversleep and over eat, especially a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain.
I’ve noticed that my craving for a particular dish spikes every time when the weather gets colder: poutine. For those who don’t know what the heck it is, poutine is (in its most basic form) just fries and cheese curds with a rich beef gravy slathered over top. I know it sounds kinda gross but trust me it is delicious, and makes an amazing drunk food!
Woah! I Food Hoard, but Blame My Ancestors
Has biology failed me once again? According to one researcher who told NPR, our winter eating habits could be related to our primitive instincts to stockpile food in preparation for the cold months when food is more scarce. Now that we’ve gotten to a point where food is just a phone call or click away, there’s no lack of opportunity but the impulse to food hoard remains.
Though I don’t fully buy into the second theory, there’s no denying that our evolutionary instincts are pretty strong. But a big part of me, the stubborn part, wants to challenge this food hoarding idea. I acknowledge that we have certain evolutionary instincts that make varying impact on our lives, but I also believe that we are not simply the sum of these biological impulses. Our actions should essentially come down to a fantastic little thing called choice. If I am financially in a position where I can make healthier eating choices, or go to the gym, can I not then choose to subdue the biological impulses that push me to overeat? Or maybe I’m oversimplifying everything. It’s a lot easier to say “I’m gonna run a marathon and eat kale until I turn green”, but a heck of a lot harder to actually do it.
This, dear readers, is where I am right now in my life. Struggling to get back on the diet horse, though hate calling it a diet. Struggling to be active, despite the impulse to stay indoors and away from the cold. Struggling to give up poutine, though I love it so much! Struggling – and this one is very important – to accept that I am just a human with flaws and imperfections, that I will never be a size 2, and that it’s ok to have comfort food once in a while. These struggles are real but they do not make me want to give up.
If you got tips, I wanna hear ’em: what are some ways I can stay fit and active this Winter?