Along with the crisp autumn air comes apple picking, pumpkin-spice-everything, and of course, shorter days—all thanks to the end of daylight saving time. While setting back the clock an hour may not seem like a big deal, it can actually have a huge impact on our sleep cycle and mood—two factors that can affect your weight.
If you notice that you’re more cranky than usual in the coming weeks, it may be because you’re getting less sunlight in your life. In some cases, the lack of vitamin D-rich daylight can cause a disorder known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but even folks who don’t have SAD can experience symptoms of the seasonal blues, which range from depression and fatigue to lack of motivation. This means healthy habits like hitting the gym or prepping home cooked meals for the week ahead may seem all the more grueling—or something you straight up just don’t want to do.
It gets worse: The early onset of darkness and that extra hour of shuteye can also disturb your sleep cycle, leaving your body feeling sleepy, stressed, and craving carbs. But while you may be tempted to soothe yourself by finishing off a pint of rocky road ice cream, giving into temptation on the reg could lead to weight gain.
Thankfully there are a few simple diet tweaks you can make to stay on track throughout the fall and winter. First and foremost, choose foods that help stabilize blood sugar and keep your cravings in check. Cinnamon-topped oatmeal, berries, and roasted veggies all fit the bill. Foods rich in healthy fats like raw nuts, avocado, and coconut—as well as foods high in vitamin D like eggs and fortified milk—are also smart diet additions. The reason: these foods can increase levels of serotonin, the happy hormone that can helps combat the winter blues and weight gain. For even more ways to stay on track through the cold-weather months check out these 20 Spring Foods To Help Shed Your Winter Weight.