Why you feel hungrier and crave comfort foods in cooler months

As we move through autumn, parts of Australia are starting to see cooler weather. For some of us, that can mean increasing feelings of hunger and cravings for ‘comfort food’ such as as pasta, stews and ramen.

But what’s happening in our body?

3 things change when it gets cold

1. Our body conserves heat

It sends this energy it conserves to our internal organs so they can maintain their temperature and work properly. The body can also perform heat-generating activities (such as shivering), which uses energy. The body will then look for additional energy through calories from eating food.

2. Our body warms up when eating

When we eat, the body needs to expend energy to digest, absorb, and metabolise the nutrients. This process requires the use of energy, which generates heat in the body, leading to an increase in body temperature termed ‘diet-induced thermogenesis‘.

However, the amount of energy used to keep us warm is quite modest.

3. Some people experience a drop in the neurotransmitter called serotonin

This is partly because the rate our body produces serotonin is related to sunlight, which is lower in winter.

Serotonin helps to regulate mood, appetite, and sleep, among other things. When serotonin levels are low, it can lead to increased hunger and decreased satiety (feeling that you’ve had enough to eat), making us feel hungrier and less satisfied after meals.

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