Health Watch: Seasonal Weight Gain

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - A lot of people tend to gain a little weight during the winter months, attributing it to Holiday feasting.
But studies show it has more to do with the changing season itself.
Rhiannon Walker has more in this week's Health Watch.

Days are getting shorter, daylight is fading fast, and there is a chill in the air- all of which can lead folks to feel a little more depressed during this time of year.
Doctor Susan Albers is a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic and says the fall season can often be a trigger for folks who struggle with comfort eating.

Susan Albers; Psychologist Cleveland Clinic>>"As soon as the season begins to turn, people are talking more about emotional eating, comfort eating, because they're stuck inside and they're reaching for food right away to soothe those emotions."

Doctor Albers says that the perks we get from the extra vitamin D during the summer months start to disappear once fall rolls in.
The lack of sunlight tends to make us feel a little more blue.
She recommends sitting in front of a window, which can help us absorb a little more sunlight and boost our mood, in an effort to curb comfort eating habits.
Fir folks who often find themselves turning to food for comfort, Doctor Albers says there are ways to take advantage of traditional fall foods, like apples and pumpkins, to get them to work in your favor instead.
For instance, research has shown that eating an entire apple prior to a meal can help you eat up to fifteen percent less.
And your Halloween pumpkin can provide more benefit than just a decoration on your front porch.

Susan Albers; Psychologist Cleveland Clinic>>"Take advantage of all of the pumpkins around. Instead of throwing away those pumpkin seeds when you scrape out your jack-o-lantern, you can roast them - put some salt, some seasoning, they are filled with zinc and tryptophan which help regulate your serotonin level, which is a feel-good chemical."

Doctor Albers adds that if you usually take a walk after dinner and it is getting to dark, try switching it to before dinner so you can still get in some outside time.
For this week's Health Watch, I'm Rhiannon Walker.