In the winter a delayed sensation of satiety causes many people to feel hungry in the evening. Even after dinner they do not feel satisfied and want to keep eating, especially sweets and starches. This phenomenon has been termed "carbohydrate craving" and appears to result in the winter weight gain that is common in most people. Carbohydrate craving is one of the major complaints of people who are subject to SAD or the Winter Blues. Refs.
In mammals, changes in hormone levels normally signal the brain when the animal has eaten. In fall and winter, the signal to the area of the brain that registers a sensation of satiety is suppressed in the evening. In this manner, nature encourages mammals to continue to eat and gain weight in order to survive the cold weather and scarcity of food in the winter.
This seasonal change in body chemistry also affects people. It is common for people living in the temperate latitudes to gain between five and ten pounds every winter. Studies show that this weight gain results from snacking in the evening, while daytime eating patterns do not appear to change. Refs.
In humans, as in other mammals, the signal for season change is the length of day as registered by the biological clock in the brain. Keeping the body in a summer mode with light therapy gives affected people added energy and lighter spirits. It also eliminates the nighttime carbohydrate cravings which result in winter weight gain. Refs.
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