Winter Food Myths You Should Stop Believing

You've most likely heard these pearls of "wisdom" over the years, but are they true? We bust the myths!

From the clothes we wear to the events we attend, we plan nearly every minute of our lives according to the weather. But what about allowing weather to dictate your eating habits? Here are a few sayings you may have heard—and yes, they should be taken with a grain of salt!

Winter Food Myths You Should Stop Believing

Myth 1: If you’re stranded without water in winter, you should eat snow.

Sure, snow is an excellent source of water (and it’s fun to catch on your tongue), but eating it the wrong way in an emergency situation can actually be life-threatening.  
Eating snow lowers your body temperature (since your body must expend heat energy to melt snow into liquid water after you ingest it). This means it can hasten the onset of hypothermia—a drop in body temperature below 95 degrees. To avoid this danger, melt fresh snow over a fire, a candle flame, or in sunlight first, then drink up. (And yes, the same goes for eating icicles.)  

Myth 2: A coffee or hot toddy is the best winter warm-up drink

Hot coffee. Mulled wine. Hot buttered rum. Nothing knocks off winter’s chill like a hot beverage, right? But while hot liquids give you the sensation of being warm, there’s a catch: those containing caffeine and alcohol can remove fluids from the body by making you urinate more often. And the more fluids our bodies lose, the greater the risk of dehydration. If you plan to sip that hot toddy and then head outdoors into the dry moisture-zapping cold air, be sure to chase it with a glistening glass of water.

Here’s one you can believe: Cold weather makes us crave carbs

High angel view of a dish of fresh baked macaroni and cheese with table cloth and old wood spoon over a rustic dark background.
There’s a reason we crave carb-rich comfort foods.

Fact: Whether it’s because our bodies need more energy to battle the bitter cold or because we’re simply around more food during the festive winter months, those comfort food carbohydrates are eaten more frequently during the cold season. Since carbs are harder to digest, our bodies must work harder to process them, which in turn makes us feel warmer.

There’s also another reason for craving carbs when the weather turns cold: carbs can boost serotonin—the “happy” hormone that we tend to have less of in winter, thanks to weaker sunlight.

So, the next time you crave macaroni and cheese when the mercury dips, don’t feel guilty, fuel up!

Are there other food and weather “myths” that are actually fact? Check out page 48-49 of the 2021 Farmers’ Almanac!

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Tiffany Means

Tiffany Means is a freelance writer and a degreed meteorologist. She specializes in weather forecasting and enjoys making the subject of weather (and the science behind it) more relatable. She currently resides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

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