Bloomington / Normal, IL

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How Winter Affects Our Eating Patterns


Submitted by The Village at Mercy Creek

Winter is here, and with it comes cold weather, shorter daylight hours, and cold and flu season. This change in weather also has an impact on our eating habits, but the question is why?

Like bears hibernate for the season, we too slow down during the winter months. Even though we do not sleep for five to seven months out of the year, the winter season is a time of year we tend to spend more time indoors.

It is in our nature to want to consume more calories during the colder months, but to promote healthy aging, we shouldn’t give in to all our cravings. Following are a few ways to maintain healthy habits and choose healthy alternatives throughout the season.


Changes That Impact Eating Habits

  • Lowered Internal Body Temperature.
    During the winter, our internal body temperature drops. When this happens, our bodies burn more calories to try to keep warm. As a result, you feel hungrier and crave more calories to replace what you have been burning. Because of this, we tend to reach for calorie-loaded foods and drinks to keep us warm, such as hot chocolate and hearty stews and soups. Fortunately, healthy alternatives to warm yourself up and replace your calories could include hot teas and broth-based soups loaded with nutrients, such as vegetables and beans.

  • Less Physical Activity.
    The colder weather makes it more challenging to get outside and maintain regular exercise routines. Instead, we want to get cozy and relax indoors during the winter months. However, not only are we not getting the exercise we need, but the time we would normally spend being active is often replaced with more eating. The solution is to find new ways to stay active during the winter season. One big benefit of Senior Living Communities is that exercise opportunities are provided without needing to go outside or drive someplace.

  • Dealing with the Winter Blues.
    According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 5% of adults in the U.S. experience Seasonal Affective Disorder and about 10% to 20% of people in America may get a milder form of the “winter blues.” Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression caused by a lack of exposure to light. It occurs the same time each year, usually during the winter months since the days are shorter, and resolves itself once the longer days of spring arrive. Besides shorter days and a decrease of light in the winter, other causes include problems with the body’s biological clock or in levels of the brain chemical serotonin. This is where eating habits come into play. Carbohydrate-rich foods provide a rush of serotonin, so overeating or craving foods with carbohydrates make sense for those dealing with the winter blues.

  • Less Light = More Calories.
    The amount of light exposure you get in a day directly impacts your cravings. This is true even indoors—and while you are eating! A recent study seated half of its participants in a well-lit room and the other half in a dimly lit room. The results found that those who dined in the well-lit area were 24 percent more likely to choose healthy menu items and eat more vegetables while those who dined in the dimly lit area ordered 39 percent more calories.


If you go into the winter season expecting to eat less healthy foods and gain weight, you likely will. Your mindset plays a significant role in how you cope with the changes of the season. Stay positive, stay active, and do your best to select healthy food options.


At the Village at Mercy Creek, they believe joy should exist in every aspect of daily life. Each day is filled with possibilities and good times because that’s how they choose to live and serve within our community. They offer Independent Living, Assisted Living and Respite Care services designed to meet the specific, often changing needs of their residents. To tour or learn more about the Village at Mercy Creek, located at 1501 Mercy Creek Drive in Normal, call 309-268-1501 or visit