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Avoiding End-of-Winter Blues and Overeating

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Everyone knows the feeling once winter has overstayed its welcome. There are certain days where you can run down a list of feelings you have and have the list read like a Charles Dickens novel: Groggy. Tired. Irritable. Downtrodden. Hungry.

Although March 20 is the first day of spring and days are already getting longer, seasonal affective disorder can still end up being a struggle through the remaining cold days. Not only are many attempting to get into a better emotional state but also to stop from eating too much food and gaining weight.

About a half million Americans are said to be affected by SAD each winter, the Cleveland Clinic reported, with 10 to 20 percent suffer from a general “winter blues.” Approximately three-quarters of the sufferers are women in early-adulthood. Aside from cravings for food, there tends to be withdrawal from social activities, anxiety, an inability to focus and a lack of energy.

How to deal
With Chicago’s long winter running colder and snowier than most other years, it’s good to be cognizant of what you can do to help fight SAD and the urge to overeat.

First of all, if you experience a level of sadness that is more than you can handle, it is important to see a trained professional who can help talk out your feelings. Taking care of your mental well-being should always be a priority.

For those who are just starting to see the signs of SAD and may be tempted eat a bit more than usual, staying busy will certainly help. You can keep up with good friends and fun social activities to help alleviate sadness and stress. It may also be a good idea, even though it is extremely cold, to step outside for a bit each day. There are still many positive effects of getting out of the house or office for a bit, even if it means you have to throw on a few extra layers, a big goofy hat and a scarf.

As far as what should be done to keep from overeating, a few suggestions include:

  • Eat slowly, as it takes 12 minutes or more for the brain to realize you are full.
  • Choose foods rich in fiber, protein and water. These are sure you keep you healthy, full and fit.
  • Savor the first few bites of your meal, as taste buds lose their sensitivity to food after the initial part of a meal or snack.
  • Always be aware of what you are eating and in what amount. Simply keeping track of the amount of food being eaten should go a long way to helping you slow down what you eat.

Even in times when you are feeling sad, it is important to avoid taking comfort in junk food. This is one area that truly shows how closely connected the mind and body are. If you feel as though you are struggling and need to talk with a trained professional, please contact our office to set up an appointment.