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Seasonal changes and temperature changes can very easily influence our eating habits much more than you might think.

With spring in full swing and summer fast approaching, thoughts of ice cream in the park and iced lattes on the way to work fill my mind.

The heat of the environment naturally lends to the idea that we should drink and eat foods that help cool us down.

Warm weather calls for a visit to the local ice cream shop.

But why is this the case?

What is happening inside and outside our body that causes this change in eating habits and how do we take control of it?

Weather affects appetite

Studies have shown that in warmer climates, people tend to eat less food as well as opting for “lighter” and “fresher” foods.

The reason for this, according to research by John R. Brobeck, is that the body tries to regulate its own heat depending on the surrounding temperature.

eating habits
Naturally, we opt for lighter foods during the warmer months.

This is because the food we eat is used as energy to keep the body warm and since we don’t need as much heat, we need less of it.

And similarly, when winter arrives, our body reacts to the cooler temperatures and encourages us to eat more to warm ourselves up.

That’s probably why when you’re basking in the sun on vacation you want to eat lighter meals and crave more fluids, when in the dead of winter many of us turn to heartier dishes like stews and soups, and hot drinks like hot chocolate, to satiate us more.

eating habits
When winter comes, hot drinks are always on the menu.

We drink more in the heat

In addition, when we go out in the sun or in a hot area, our body will start to sweat more to regulate the level of heat it experiences again.

As a result, we are more likely to drink more than eat under these conditions, which naturally means we consume less and change our eating habits.

This is often the reason why many of us find it much easier to control our cravings and weight during the summer months of the year.

eating habits
Our bodies need more fluid to replace the water lost through sweating during the hotter months.

Eating habits change with availability

Seasonal changes not only affect our body heat, but also the types of food that grow in our area.

In January there is an abundance of root vegetables and fish, moving into April when the bees are busy making honey, and in June we can enjoy those freshly grown Scottish berries.

eating habits
Strawberry season arrives in June.

Although supermarkets give us year-round options, trying to buy local and being more aware of our carbon footprint has led to massive changes in what we choose to buy and how we eat.

As a result, what is available to us can have a huge impact on our eating habits and the products we can buy are highly dependent on weather conditions and seasons.

Being aware of your surroundings is crucial to making better lifestyle choices and creating beneficial eating habits.

So the next time you’re deciding what to eat, you might want to check the weather first.

This article is part of an ongoing series where topics around food and drink and behavior will be discussed.

If you have any suggestions for topics you would like to read, please provide your suggestions in the submission form below.

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Mariam Okhai is a food and drink journalist who also studies eating behavior.

She holds a Masters in Behavioral Science for Management from the University of Stirling. His undergraduate degree was in psychology and business economics with marketing.

She is also a Certified Habit Coach.

You can read more about his research on her Behavioral Foodie website.

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[Why checking the weather will help with controlling your eating habits]