YOU DOCS

Garden City Telegram

Are you hungry for social interaction?

Last April, 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 pandemic padding. 

Well, it's more than inactivity that's got them - and you - putting on weight. Seems "hungry for love" is not a metaphor. Isolation may make you crave food. 

Neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently had volunteers undergo isolation and then food depravation and found 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 they had fasted. 

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 indoors). You want to learn to ease your aloneness - and reduce your food cravings - even when you're all by yourself!

1. Enjoy totally 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 enjoyable 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 folks who have overcome major challenges to help you stop "just me" thinking. 

We hope this inspires you to overcome loneliness - and reduce your cravings - by nurturing your spirit.  

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com. 

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.