diets · eating · overeating · weight loss

The Trump 25?: Stress, weight gain, and American politics

Image description: A digital scale with a wooden surface which reads 0.0.
Image description: A digital scale with a wooden surface which reads 0.0.

We’ve been writing quite a bit on the blog on the things we do to find peace and relieve stress in tough times. We’ve talked about dog walks, hikes in the woods, yoga, time with friends, and beautiful music.

Mostly those things, in addition to being instrumentally valuable in terms of health and stress reduction, are also valuable for their own sake. It’s just plain good to spend time with friends and appreciate joy in the world.

But I confess that in addition to the things that I want more of in my life, I’ve also been eating a lot of delicious food. Delicious food also is good for its own sake. But I’ve been eating more of it than I like, on reflection, and I haven’t fully appreciated a lot of it. I’ve been eating for comfort, not joy.

Now I’m a defender of eating for comfort. It’s not the worst thing you can do. (For me, and for lots of people, alcohol might be worse. There is also a lot being written right now about drinking one’s way through the next four years. I’ll pass on that.)

Food serves a lot of purposes besides nutrition. My blog post which defends eating to relieve stress is also about what I cooked on the US election night. That post seems sad and naive now. I thought it was going to be a stressful evening but that it would all end okay. I confess too that when things started to go bad, I found refuge in sleep. “Wake me when Hilary wins,” I said to Jeff, before drifting off.


Four years is a long time to be comfort eating. And it turns out I’m not the only person thinking about this.  See Stress Eating is Now an American Pastime Thanks to President Donald Trump.

In an interview in the New York Times TV producer, director and writer Judd Apatow talks about stress eating and gaining weight. He says, “Most of us are just scared and eating ice cream.” Me too. Salted caramel ice cream is this year’s favourite. Sometimes I worry I am going to associate the flavour with Trump trauma.

In another New York Times piece called Trump Made Me Eat It, Joyce Wadler writes that her Greenwich Village Weight Watchers group is talking lots about Trump weight.  Trump tweets, she writes, and instead of your usual low cal yogurt you find yourself reaching for a chocolate croissant.

Barbra Streisand is also tweeting about Trump and food. “Donald Trump is making me gain weight. I start the day with liquids, but after the morning news, I eat pancakes smothered in maple syrup!” the singer tweeted.

Oh, and just in time, a new study seems to show a link between stress, elevated hormones, and obesity. However, the researchers note that they aren’t really sure about cause and effect. After all, in a fat phobic society it might make sense that larger people are stressed out by attitudes towards their bodies. That is, being fat might be stressful (duh!) rather than stress causing overweight.

In all of this, I don’t mean to trivialize politics. Or to make this all about healthy eating. Or even to criticize eating as a way of relieving stress. But I am interested in the choices we make in hard times. What fuels us to engage politically? What choices support our active, politically and otherwise, lifestyles?

How about you? Are you making your usual food choices in these tough months? What’s your plan for eating in the time of Trump?


Image description: An American flag blowing in the wind, against a blue sky with some fluffy white clouds.
Image description: An American flag blowing in the wind, against a blue sky with some fluffy white clouds.

11 thoughts on “The Trump 25?: Stress, weight gain, and American politics

  1. I was just talking to myself about this the other day. I said, “No matter how many doughnuts you eat, #45 isn’t going away anytime soon. So you’d better snap out of it.”

    But it’s hard, so hard. This is a living nightmare. I have a Chrome app called “Make America Kittens Again,” so the picture I see above is of an adorable little moggy. (Even if the picture isn’t of that orange gargoyle himself, the app will flag just about everything connected to his name.)

    All I can really do is limit my news intake while still participating in our democracy…and exercise. That definitely clears the mind, among the other obvious benefits.

    I would love to hear how others are coping…in a healthy way.

    I think I’ll have…some tea now. :-}

  2. For one of the first times in my life, certainly the first time in many years, the times have actually made me lose my appetite to the point where I have actually lost a significant (for me) amount of weight for almost two months. I have not been eating like I used to ever since late January, and I think the political stress and sense of disbelief at the state of the world in general are major contributors.

  3. Thanks so much for this. Because I’ve been avoiding news when I can since the election, I didn’t see any of those articles you cited (normally I would’ve seen all of them). Your post makes me realize how sad and angry I am about being out of touch. I HATE being out of touch with the world! And it’s not like it really helps; rather it replaces horror and fury with ever-present anxiety. What happened today that I missed? How horrible was it? Am I a bad citizen for ducking this news?

    And yes, ever-present anxiety is the perfect trigger for overeating for me. But knowledge is power. And you’ve given us healthy and nourishing food for thought. I don’t know what to do with it yet, but will let y’all know!

  4. I really struggled from the beginning of November through January with stress eating because of the election. I am a bit of a resolutioner, having lost 65+ lbs. due to a resolution 7 years ago. As much as I hate the “new year new you” push, I also like to have a defined point in time as measurement.

    Anyway, I’m off track. I decided in January that the Tangerine Tyrant couldn’t stop me from reaching my fitness goals. And also that a 40+ woman hoisting heavy weights over her head (or on her back) was pretty revolutionary considering I wasn’t even allowed in the weight room at my high school because it was “for the boys.”

    So now I’m eating properly for my goals and lifting heavy because it’s my own way of giving the finger to the patriarchy. Don’t want my muscles to get too big? Good, I’m not doing it for you. It’s for me.

  5. My husband’s response: “We cope any way we can. I like to fantasize about wiring Trump’s nutsack to a car battery.” 😀

  6. It is rare, but on the odd evening while drifting to sleep, I would mull over the current affairs another country..though the giant is next door to Canada. Before I rarely did a final thought before sleeping!

    It has not affected my diet and I can’t attribute to my sleep challenges. I had it before Trumpster. However it has given enormous fodder for conversation and once, again just reminds me how much I’ve benefitted to even live in Canada for my own development!

    We have a tremendous responsibility for our own health, own community …and for democracy. We have to look after it all wisely.

  7. Drinking seems to be my archille’s heel. Not enormous amounts but nearly every day. I’m annoyed with myself & I do try to take the edge off in other ways – it’s just quicker and more effective than going for a run sometimes. I’m managing some yoga and/or meditation most days but I know I’m drinking too much. And disclaimer – I live in Australia so I can mostly avoid hearing about 45 if I avoid all media. And coffee shops. And universities. And waiting rooms. I talk to dogs a lot (especially after a few drinks).

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