ua en ru

Two main reasons why people crave sweets in winter

Two main reasons why people crave sweets in winter Illustrative photo (Freepik)
Author: Maria Kholina

People usually eat salads and vegetables in summer, while in winter, it's more pies and cookies. The Ministry of Health of Ukraine revealed what happens to the body when the temperature drops, causing a craving for sweets.

Doctors say that the desire for fatty and sweet food in winter is primarily an evolutionary programming.

Light

In the fall and winter, the daylight hours decrease, and we get less natural light, which can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Therefore, the human body tries to compensate for this condition by consuming food with high carbohydrate and sugar content. In addition to the hedonistic aspect of enjoying sweets, there is also a biochemical one – sweet foods trigger an insulin release, and in this case, insulin is beneficial!

This is because insulin helps cells consume glucose more actively, and neurons produce serotonin and dopamine – neurotransmitters that uplift the brain.

Warmth

Besides light, people also lack warmth in winter. Here, the body's help comes in the form of dietary thermogenesis – a process where the body expends energy to digest food and, as a result, generates heat.

However, it's not necessary to eat only sweet food, as protein-rich food has the most significant effect.

How to reduce sweet cravings

To reduce the craving for sweets, doctors recommend:

  • Not skipping regular meals – it's easier to resist the urge to eat sweets when we're not hungry than when the stomach is empty.
  • Building a diet around plant-based and protein-rich foods – this promotes the well-being of gut microbiota and provides sufficient energy.
  • Taking walks and engaging in sports to warm up through other means.
  • If you feel a craving for sweets, try doing squats (or other physical activity) first. This mobilizes glucose reserves a bit.
  • Getting proper rest and going to bed earlier and waking up later. A well-rested brain is less inclined to crave sweet and fatty foods and is more susceptible to willpower.
  • Seeking help from a psychologist.