Overcoming 'comfort eating' as the seasons change

CLEVELAND - The days are getting shorter, it's getting darker earlier in the day and it's getting chilly - all of which can lead folks to feel a little more depressed during this time of year.

According to Susan Albers, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic, the fall season can often be a trigger for folks who struggle with comfort eating.

"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," said Dr. Albers.

Dr. Albers said the perks that we get from the extra vitamin D provided by the sun during the summer months starts to disappear once fall rolls in. As a result, the lack of sunlight tends to make us feel a little blue.

She sometimes 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.

For those who often find themselves turning to food for comfort, Dr. Albers said there are ways to take advantage of traditional fall foods, like apples and pumpkins, to get them to work in our favor instead.

For instance, research has shown that eating an entire apple prior to a meal can help people eat up to 15 percent less.

And a Halloween pumpkin can provide more benefit than just a decoration on the front porch.

"Take advantage of all of the pumpkins around," said Dr. Albers. "Instead of throwing away those pumpkin seeds when you scrape out your jack-o-lantern, you can roast them. They are filled with zinc and tryptophan which help regulate your serotonin level, which is a feel-good chemical."

Another way to help beat the fall 'blahs' - Dr. Albers said for those who are used to taking a walk after dinner and it's getting too dark, to try switching it to before dinner, so they can still get some outside time.

Cleveland Clinic News Service


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