Why We Crave Comfort Food in Winter

Why We Crave Comfort Food in Winter

As the cold months draw in and the fluffy blankets come out, you may find yourself planning all manner of winter stews, pies and roast dinners. You wouldn't be alone in your planning. Most people decide to choose comfort foods over the winter, and we cite it as being because of our past caveman instincts. We want to stuff our bodies with warm foods so that we can stay feeling nice and warm and toasty. 

There's nothing quite like that drowsy feeling you get after eating study food on a Sunday afternoon so that you can have a nap in front of the TV. You'll learn how to make smashed potatoes with big fat sizzling sausages, and you'll learn how to roast beef so that you can enjoy a full roast dinner smothered in gravy.

You wouldn't do this over the summer months, because it's far too hot to eat like this, so why do we do this in the winter? Comfort foods such as cheesy pastas and oozing puddings make us feel good, so let's learn why.

Your gut is very clever.

You get to speak to your brain, just like every other area of your body. We know from nutritional psychiatry that stomachs produce happiness chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are communicated to the brain so that when we eat stodgy and delicious foods, our brain knows that this makes us happy so it will want to do more of it.

In the winter time we do less outdoor exercise and we enjoy less hours of sunshine, so we have to get our dopamine and serotonin hits from somewhere. For most of us, these hits come from our food. The gut speaks to the brain, and when we are feeling low or the winter months are getting us down, the brain signals that it's a really good idea for us to eat some of our mom's famous roast pies.

That caveman instinct.

We mentioned it earlier, so it's worth another mention. When we were kept in The Cave people phases of our existence, we would eat hearty foods so that we could store fat and save up some of that deliciousness over the winter months. That hasn't changed.

When the weather turns we tend to eat comfort foods to fill our bellies and feel comfortable and warm. Just like we would have done when we used to roast bison instead of pork.

It's all about those cravings.

Is there really anything more delicious than macaroni cheese in front of a fire? Possibly not. We crave comfort foods in the winter months because we know they make us feel good. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to up our moods, and if you know that food can help you to do that then why not go to town in the winter time? It's darker and colder in the winter so we stay indoors for longer.

This leads us to self medicate with food. It helps us to improve our moods, and it helps us to release glucose to the brain which makes us nice and sleepy and ready to enjoy a night curled up in one of our nests.