We all know what’s in store as winter approaches: colder weather, shorter days, winter celebrations, holiday travel, maybe some quiet time by the fire. And for most of us, a few extra pounds also manage to sneak their way past the calorie counter. Blame the festivities, comfort foods or lack of outdoor activities; whatever the culprit may be, the “holiday half-dozen” seems to be an inevitable fact of the season for most people.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Keeping Up with a Slower Pace
Nature slows down in the winter, and much of the natural world goes into hibernation. Likewise, our energy levels decrease — we simply feel more tired. This reduction is normal, because our bodies need to conserve energy to stay warm and keep immunity going strong. Winter is simply a time when we need additional rest. In fact, many holistic health practitioners emphasize the importance of going to bed very early and waking up later during the winter.
Since our energy levels are lower, we often crave sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods — right at the time of year when our metabolism slows down the most. With our modern lifestyles, we’re removed from nature’s rhythms – so instead of slowing down during this quieter time of the year, we push harder to keep up our fast-paced schedules. This non-stop schedule can intensify our cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods and at the same time, strains our adrenal glands, spiking cortisol and other stress hormones that contribute to increased fat production and weight gain. Elevated adrenal hormones also contribute to fluid retention, another aspect of winter weight gain.
However, if we just slow down a little bit, and listen to the body’s requests for more rest and extra nourishment, we can help balance these shifts. This way, we can sail through winter with more energy and vitality, and fewer cravings for sugary comfort foods.
Winter Sleep Patterns
Many studies now show that lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain. In order to ensure quality, rejuvenating sleep, there are several factors to keep in mind. The first of course, is to sleep enough: ideally between 7-9 hours each night. Another issue is going to sleep at the right time, and in the winter, that means earlier. If we were really following the seasons, we would go to bed with the sunset or soon after during the winter — and definitely before 10 p.m. It’s also key to ensure that your sleeping area is completely dark with no artificial light, in order to maximize melatonin production for deep, regenerative sleep.
If we’re unable to enter into deep sleep patterns each night, our repair mechanisms won’t function well. By taking steps each evening to gently relax your body and mind — with stretching, meditation, yoga or other methods – you can help support relaxation and deeper sleep patterns. Turning off your electronics at least 2 hours before bed, and avoiding heavy meals late at night, can also help ensure deeper sleep.
ecoNugenics sleep formula, ecoSleep™ contains herbs and nutrients to support gentle relaxation and a healthy sleep cycle, for a feeling of freshness and renewal upon waking. This formula is unique because in addition to promoting relaxation and deeper sleep, it also contains traditional Chinese herbs to help support the body’s natural rejuvenation and repair processes. *
SAD And Weight Gain
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common issue relating to mood imbalances during the colder, darker months. Often, it can be expressed as a compensatory attempt to “keep up the pace” by adrenalin hormones such as cortisol and other stress hormones. Also, more darkness sometimes triggers a sense of loneliness in many people, and low vitamin D (from lack of sunshine) can also fuel depression.
In these cases, food often becomes a source of comfort. In fact, it’s a common, universal cycle: we turn to sweetened comfort foods that create a spike in insulin followed by a drop, which can trigger hypoglycemia and deepen depression. This is where specific nutritional supplements and a low glycemic diet emphasizing low-sugar foods that balance metabolism can make a healthy difference. Nutrients that support metabolism in relation to emotional strength and adrenal health are very important during the winter.
Here are some top recommendations:
- Medicinal mushrooms, especially reishi and cordyceps
- B vitamins such as B1, B6 and B12
- Adrenal extracts
- Chinese yam
ecoNugenics ecoMetabolic™ also helps to promote sugar and fat metabolism, balance blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings, for metabolic balance and overall health.*
Gentle, regular exercise is also critical, because it gets us moving and increases our endorphins — “happy hormones.” Winter-friendly activities like yoga and Tai Chi are excellent choices and have been shown to lower stress hormones.
In the winter it’s important to find the middle ground between getting enough physical activity (to avoid the stagnation leading to SAD and weight gain) and getting enough rest, quiet time and regenerative sleep. But if we follow these principles and do our best to create balance, we can experience more energy, vitality and a greater sense of well-being this winter season, with fewer cravings for unhealthy foods.