Ever heard of “the freshman 15”?

It’s an expression about how students typically gain weight in their first year of University. Well, the 2020 equivalent is “the quarantine15”. With gyms shuttered, home baking on the rise, and most of us reaching for a bit of comfort food during these stressful times, fifteen pounds of weight gain in a few months isn’t that far-fetched!

Listen, we all know we’re better off to eat less and to eat healthy.  And there’s no shortage of advice circulating right now for how to do just that.  But with everything going on, I think you could be forgiven for pretending you didn’t hear it. ;-)

That said, if there was ONE tip I could give you for a little “damage control”… It’s to limit how much alcohol you drink. Before I have a revolt on my hands, consider this: not only are ALL forms of alcohol high in calories (the alcohol itself saddles your body with 7 calories per gram), but drinking sabotages your self-control, leading to overeating and poor food choices. Doing nothing else but cutting back on the liquid calories will go a long way toward keeping the “15” to a more manageable “5 or 10”. And here’s something else I want you to think about:

Many of us will reach for that extra glass of wine or beer because we feel a bit nervous or down. But it’s a terrible solution.  In fact, it mostly makes thing worse.

You see, one way alcohol does its job is by inhibiting a neurotransmitter in your brain called glutamate.  This is a compound that increases brain activity.  So while you’re under alcohol’s effects, it slows the traffic on your brain’s highways, leaving you less worries and more relaxed. This, unfortunately, is a temporary effect. Once the alcohol leaves your system, your brain overcompensates with MORE glutamate.  Result?  It can make you feel more anxious or more depressed, and the effect can last for days afterward.  A little food for thought as we all do our best to navigate these uncharted waters. By all means, have your virtual happy hour’s…

Toast to our frontline workers… Just keep the above in mind and practice moderation. Getting outside and staying active is a much better answer, if you’re feeling low or anxious. Anyway, hope you found this helpful.


Dr. Josh