It’s cold and snowy and rainy in most parts of the country right about now. It’s getting darker a lot earlier and even on nicer days, the sunshine is escaping us. We can also be dealing with dry skin, achy joints and generally unpleasant moods. The winter doldrums are upon us and we may be thinking about heavier, heartier, more comforting meals.

But those may not be what our bodies are actually craving during the cruel winter months. Turns out that what our bodies consider comfort food in low temps is pretty different than what our brains think we want.

Here are some dietary tips that will keep our bodies happier as the temperatures drop.

Drink milk
It’s not just about our days getting shorter in winter, it’s also about spending less time outdoors. And that means less vitamin D from the sunlight. We need about 200 IUs of vitamin D every day. The best source for that important vitamin in the absence of abundant sunshine is fortified milk. Just one 8 ounce glass every day will help you ward off winter colds and keep you healthier until the days become longer again.

Include oily fish and almonds in your diet
It’s cold outside! We’ve got the heat up inside. And that’s the best recipe for dry skin. Of course, we’re using lotion to help the situation. But including healthy fats in your diet will help keep your skin from drying out to begin with. Fats don’t just protect the cells on the inside of your body, they provide protection for your outer layer as well. So increase your oily fish intake with salmon and grab some almonds as a snack to boost your omega-3s during the winter months.

Carbs help chase away the blues in winter
At some point or another, every one of us has experienced the winter “blues.” Shorter sunlit hours and colder temperatures have a lot to do with that. Serotonin is what helps keep our mood elevated and we need more of it during the winter. So that means our brains need to produce more. Carbs help your brain restore the necessary level of serotonin to keep us whistling a happy tune in the cold. Choose carbs carefully with thought given to calorie consumption and you’ll help yourself feel happier and more alert this winter.

It’s not your imagination … you really are hungrier
Colder temperatures actually do trigger hunger. Eating increases your body temperature and warms you up, so your brain tells you to eat more. It’s not only easier to gain weight in winter, it’s also easier to consume larger amounts of fat, sugar and salt. Try keeping healthy broth based soups available, as well as low-calorie, healthy snacks that will keep you fuller longer. And don’t give in to the unhealthy cravings that you think might be more satisfying.

Drink more water
You can dehydrate more easily in winter — especially if you’re exercising. Because it’s colder outside, you may not realize you’re sweating and it’s time to replace fluids in your system. In addition to staying hydrated, water can help keep you calories consumption at bay. In addition to upping your water consumption, pay attention to water-rich fruits and vegetables during this time of year.

With a little extra attention focused on our dietary habits during the winter chill, is confident we can get through the season with softer skin, a happier outlook and without packing on excess pounds!