HEALTH NEWS

Political Weight Gain: Have You Put on the ‘Trump 10’?

Written by David Mills on May 23, 2017

Trump 10

You’ve heard of the “freshman 15”.

How about the “Trump 10”?

This is the apparent phenomenon where people have gained weight by “stress eating” since President Trump was inaugurated in late January.

The trend isn’t limited to Democrats or liberals who are anxious about what the new president is doing in office.

It’s also affected people who voted for Trump and are now having “buyer’s remorse”.

And it’s also nagging Trump supporters who are upset over media coverage and/or criticism they hear about the president.

“It’s scary on both sides,” Susan Weiner, registered dietitian and nutritionist, and certified diabetes educator, told Healthline.

That anxiety can lead to overeating for some people, in particular gorging on food that isn’t particularly healthy.

“We have a tendency to cope with food,” Lindsay Stenovec, a certified eating disorder registered dietitian, told Healthline. “So, it makes sense that this would be going on.”

Read more: How to handle post-election anger, anxiety »

Is this a real thing?

Actress Jane Krakowski mentioned the “Trump 10” last week on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert.

Krakowski said she had put on the weight since the inauguration and is now planning to work out more to lose it.

The co-star of “30 Rock” and “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” apparently isn’t alone.

Weiner said she has a number of clients who have had trouble controlling their eating since the change of administrations.

She blames the barrage of 24-hour news.

“I think it’s a real thing in that the news cycle is so constant and so overwhelming and so stressful,” she said.

Nancy Molitor, PhD, a clinical psychologist, and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, has seen signs of it.

Although she doesn’t deal with eating disorders, Molitor said she has clients who have told her they are “completely overwhelmed” since President Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

She also told Healthline that a Subaru dealership near her home has put up a sign saying its television will not be tuned to any of the news channels due to “the current political climate.”

Stenovec said the sharp division in the country, along with the onslaught of news and social media, can easily overwhelm people.

“It’s hard to find relief,” she told Healthline.

Read more: Give your post-election brain a rest »

Why do we stress eat?

Weiner and Stenovec both said the political climate can cause anxiety, as well as a feeling of things being out of control.

That kind of stress can cause some people not to eat.

But for most people, it causes them to eat too much.

“It’s a method of numbing and disconnecting,” said Stenovec.

“We are actually shoving down our emotions by pushing food into our mouths,” added Weiner. “It’s the opposite of mindful eating.”

For some people, this is the first time they have dealt with this serious health problem.

However, for people with eating disorders, the political climate adds fuel to an emotional fire they have had trouble extinguishing.

“For them, this is just an added layer,” said Stenovec.

She noted that for a lot of people it’s also not how much they’re eating, but what they’re eating.

Stenovec said in situations where people feel they’ve lost control they will resort to foods they know they shouldn’t be eating, but they also perceive will bring them comfort.

“We don’t eat cookies because they’re healthy food,” she said. “We eat them because we feel they’ll bring us pleasure."

Read more: How to stop overeating »

What can you do about it?

Weiner and Stenovec both have a number of suggestions to help people deal with stress eating.

Stenovec said when you feel a binge coming on, it’s a good idea to take a moment to reflect on the past three or four hours.

Go over what emotions you’ve gone through. Ask yourself if you ate enough at your last meal. Did you get enough protein and/or carbohydrates?

“It’s really important to check in on that,” Stenovec said. “Pause before reacting.”

She added it helps to think of ways to cope that don’t deal with food.

Take a walk outside. Call a friend. Write in a journal. Take a bubble bath.

Weiner adds a few more possible items to that list.

Get a manicure. Enjoy your favorite exercise. Perhaps even simply rearrange the furniture.

“Do things that are positive,” she recommended.

Both Stenovec and Weiner provided suggestions for when it is time for a meal.

Both said you should sit while eating. No standing while nibbling, and no eating in the car.

Be sure the television is off while you’re dining. You don’t need a distraction or a reason to shovel in extra food.

And if you do resort to stress eating, Stenovec said not to beat yourself up afterward.

Look at the situation objectively and work on doing better next time.

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