How Winter Can Affect Our Eating Habits

Posted By on January 22, 2023

For many of us, winter is synonymous with the holiday season, which means celebrating with family and friends, and of course, lots of delicious holiday treats. From Thanksgiving dinner to Christmas cookies and desserts, winter months tend to be full of opportunities to indulge. However, holidays aside, other factors can change the way we crave and consume food when the temperature drops.

Colder temperatures, fewer daylight hours, and more time spent inside are just a few changes that stimulate hunger and increase our cravings. At HarborChase Senior Living, our luxury senior living communities promote an active lifestyle with a primary focus on health and wellness. We want to share how cold weather can impact our eating habits and provide healthy alternatives to help you stay on track and focused on your wellness!

Does Winter Make Us Hungrier?

An older study found that participants consumed about 86 more calories during the fall each day as compared to springtime calorie consumption. The same study also discovered that participants were eating foods that were higher in fat during the winter. 

Many researchers have concluded that this is an evolutionary habit that prompts us to prepare for the cold by “fattening ourselves up” –  so to speak. However, other research has suggested that the changing seasons might influence certain hormones associated with appetite and hunger. One review studied data around humans and animals and found that this was true – winter affects hormones like glucocorticoids, ghrelin, and leptin. 

Daylight savings might be to blame as well. Sunlight increases the body’s production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that boosts our mood. Carbohydrate consumption can also increase serotonin, so it has been thought that we eat more carbs in order to make up for the lack of serotonin due to a lack of sunlight. 

Healthy Alternatives to Help Fight Cravings

There’s nothing wrong with giving in to your cravings, but it’s important to remember: everything in moderation. If you decide to cook yourself an indulgent meal, watch your portions to avoid overeating, and when possible, try to aim for healthy alternatives with your ingredients. For example, if you want to make a delicious, cheesy pasta dish, swap out regular pasta for whole-grain pasta or pasta made from chickpeas. To even things out and ensure you get enough fiber and vitamins, add some veggies or a lean protein. 

There are also plenty of other food ideas you can implement into your diet during the colder months, such as:


You can toss anything into a good soup, which is why this is one of the best ways to get all the fiber and vitamins you need during the winter. Research has also found that things that are physically warm give us a serotonin boost as well, making us feel happier! Add whole grains, your favorite veggies, and a lean protein to a pot, and you’re set for a delicious, healthy alternative for the cold months.


When you think of fruits and the wintertime, you probably think of empty produce shelves. While it’s true that many fruits are in short supply during the winter, it’s not the case for citrus. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and more are at their peak deliciousness from November to May. 

Whether you grab a mandarin orange for a quick, easy snack or add lemon juice to your favorite mug of tea, there are plenty of ways to get your fill of vitamin C when the weather is chilly. Another great option is to add citrus to winter greens, like kale or Swiss chard, for a delicious salad.

Seasonal Cruciferous Veggies

Cruciferous vegetables are also at their peak during the winter. This delicious and diverse group of veggies includes cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, collards, and more. It doesn’t take much effort to reap the benefits of cruciferous veggies; just one cup is the equivalent of half of our recommended daily vegetable intake. These veggies are great in salads but are also delicious when roasted with olive oil and your favorite seasonings. 

Enhanced Dining Experiences at HarborChase

At HarborChase, you can expect our culinary artists to vitalize your senses with their beautifully crafted dishes. Our dining philosophy focuses on fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients that celebrate flavor and nutrition. Our culinary experiences cater to every unique palette, and our variety of dining destinations has something for everyone. From American classics to five-course gourmet dinners, your cravings will be satisfied and leave you wanting more!

Discover luxury senior living at HarborChase by scheduling a tour of one of our beautiful communities! Click here to find one near you.