Last April, model Chrissy Teigen sarcastically confessed, "I have hit the double-digit mark on quarantine weight gain, so that's fun!!" Justin Bieber and Gayle King have also admitted to some pandemic padding.
But it's more than inactivity that's got them putting on weight. Isolation may actually make you crave food.
Neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently had volunteers undergo isolation and then food depravation, and found that when socially isolated participants looked at photos of people enjoyably interacting, the "craving signal" in their brain was similar to the signal produced when they viewed pictures of food after fasting.
So a smart pandemic weight-control plan involves more than great nutrition (no red or processed meats, ultraprocessed foods, or added syrups and sugars) and regular activity (150-300 minutes a week, even if it’s indoors).
You should also learn to ease aloneness — and reduce food cravings — even when you're all by yourself.
Here are some helpful tips:
1. Enjoy absorbing activities. Try gardening, painting, hiking, knitting — anything you love to do.
2. Fill your home with music. A 2020 study in the journal Music & Science found that listening to music works as what the researchers call a social surrogate.
3. Feel awe. Looking at beauty in artwork or in photos of landscapes will help ease your sense of deprivation.
4. Read autobiographies of people who have overcome major challenges to help you stop the "just me" thinking.
You can overcome loneliness and reduce your cravings by nurturing your spirit.