It's that time of year when the days get shorter and cooler- fall is upon us. Naturally, as swimsuit season comes to an end, many people put their diet and fitness on the backburner. To add to this mindset, research shows a seasonal rhythm with increased total calorie consumption, specifically from carbohydrates, in the fall. This pattern appears to be associated with increased meal size and a greater rate of eating.
According to a psychology professor at the University of Texas, “We have a tendency to eat about 200 calories more per day during the fall season." That translates to 3-4 pounds per year in terms of weight gain. Society tends to blame this weight gain on the holiday season, but there are other causes.
Why We Eat More
Some researchers suggest it is in our nature. Our ancestors used the fall season to prepare for the potential winter famine. Others say it is related to the connection between light and depression. Long story short, a decrease in the amount of light we see per day sends a signal to our brain that causes it to crave carbohydrate-rich foods. In other words-get outside as often as you can during the cooler months! Even if it means bundling up and bringing along a cup of coffee.
Tips For a Healthy Fall
Get out and enjoy the fall weather. The air is cooler and nature becomes more scenic. Walk at a park, ride a bike, go apple picking or to a local farmer's market.
Soups can be a great, healthy option if you focus more on using broths instead of cream or cheese.
Avoid unconscious eating while watching football or the newest Netflix series. Always measure out your food in a bowl, then put the bag or container out of sight.
Turkey can be healthy if you purchase it lean and white.
For more information about nutrition services or programs, call 336-703-3215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. As Forsyth County's Department of Public Health's Community Nutritionist, I am more than ready to serve you in any way I can!
Elizabeth Beeson, RD, LDN