It’s an all-too familiar scenario: when the rains fall and temperatures drop, you find yourself heading to the office pantry, the kitchen, the nearest café, or wherever you can score your fill of munchies.

But what is it about the cold weather that makes us want to consume more calories? Well, according to Executive Chef slash Nutritionist Ma. Lourdes Cruz-Caudal, we tend to eat more during cold weather because our body needs to maintain its normal body heat or temperature. A way to cope with the cold is through eating, since calories are transformed into energy or heat.

But for those who are watching their weight, you don’t need to worry about the keeping the cravings on a tight leash. According to Chef Lourdes, one only needs to make the right food choices.

• Veer away from animal fats in meats like pork and beef, which can be converted to cholesterol that can lead to high blood pressure. Instead, go for the healthier alternative: fruits, vegetables and fish oils, the latter containing heart-healthy essential fatty acids.
• Avoid too much consumption of salty foods, such as junk food as these can cause illnesses like hypertension.
• If you’re fond of spicy food, go for it. Though Koreans thrive in spicy dishes that help warm the bodies, Chef Lourdes warns those with delicate stomachs against its consumption, as spicy food can trigger discomfort and even ulcer in some.

So don’t despair if you’re munching more than usual these “ber” months. Quality matters much more than quantity. When in doubt, you may consult a dietitian or nutritionist to plot out a menu, and compute your required calorie intake, which is according to your height and weight. But if you don’t have the budget, you can D-I-Y your food plan on the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) website and look for the topic, Food-based dietary guidelines Philippines.