Health Fact or Fiction: Winter Leads to Weight Gain and Increased Appetite

By Charmaine Gooden

“Winter weight gain is definitely a FACT, not a myth,” says Rose Reisman, an author, health and wellness consultant (, and Registered Nutritional Consultant from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.  “To be fair to yourself there are real reasons you’re hungrier; it’s not just about self control,” she explains.  One of the reasons may be the lack of daylight which can cause a reduction in the serotonin, the “feel good” hormone in your brain.  Reduced levels of serotonin leaves you feeling lethargic, leading to inactivity and thus weight gain.  Reisman adds that winter, starting with Thanksgiving and ending with Christmas and New Years,  tends to be a festive time with friends, family and colleagues. The common denominator is always food and drink which are not always healthy: deep fried foods, excess butter, cheese, sauces and decadent desserts. These are a landmine of calories, fat and sodium.

Tips to Avoid Winter Weight Gain

  • Eat more complex carbohydrates such as whole grains which give you not only fibre, but comfort.  Comfort foods are necessary for your brain to produce serotonin.
  • Eat every three hours to avoid intense hunger.  In other words, graze!
  • Combine a lean protein and complex carb  for snacks in between meals. The combination is ideal for nutrients as well as raising your blood sugar slowly, keeping you full until your next meal.  An example could be cheese and whole grain crackers, fruit and nuts.
  • Get off the couch and get to the gym or walk the dog.
  • Get some daylight to increase your serotonin.