Call it the ‘Trump 10’
Come this time of year, it’s usually the holidays that lead to overeating. But now another event has some people packing on the pounds: the election of Donald Trump.
From Massachusetts General Hospital’s Weight Center, to a pilates studio in Belmont, to a South End bakery, some Hillary Clinton supporters have taken to stress eating, bigly.
“The response is similar to what you see after a divorce or a death in the family,” said Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity-medicine physician at MGH’s Weight Center.
“Numb” and “fearful” patients are backsliding into comfort food, she said, adding that it’s too early to know whether people will lose the Trump weight.
“We’ve never dealt with anything like this,” she said. “But I can say that if you look at historical events that are very stressful, they can lead to long-term weight retention.”
Alas, as aspiring dieters know, plain old life can lead to long-term weight retention — as can celebratory events, meaning elated Trump voters may be gaining weight, too. Yes, in a rare show of bipartisanship, those on both sides of the aisle could be putting on the Trump 10.
But in Massachusetts, where Clinton won 61 percent of the vote to Trump’s 34 percent, anger, worry, and disappointment seem to be the dominant appetite stimulants.
Zayna Gold, the founder of Boston Body Pilates, said she and other instructors have been overindulging to cope with the “outpouring of nonstop hate” from clients who are upset about the election.
Think of it as secondhand Trump.
“We’ve been a dumping ground for people’s emotions, and it has been like sponging up negative energy nonstop,” she said. “I had two glasses of wine on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I never do that.”
In the diet world, the effect of Trump’s victory can be seen clearly in the data — not from famed statistician Nate Silver, but from the Lose It! diet app, which claims 2 million active users.
The weight loss app always sees a drop-off in users from Tuesday to Wednesday — resolve weakens as the week progresses — but the Wednesday following Election Day saw a fall-off four times as large as usual.
“A lot of our active users couldn’t even stand to log in,” said Elyse Winer, the Boston-based firm’s vice president of marketing.
For an explanation as to why fewer dieters wanted to record their Wednesday consumption, look no farther than Flour Bakery in the South End.
Hours after voters first heard the words “President-elect Trump,” customers were buying the bakery’s famed sticky buns at an unprecedented rate for a Wednesday morning.
“People were saying they needed a pick-me-up,” said Kirsten Dozier, an assistant manager.
In Burlington, Wendy Guiles-Trombetta, a regular volunteer at a local food pantry, has been cycling through comfort food and drink — she’s medicated with martinis, fast food, and chocolate — to no avail.
“Last night I went for homemade mac and cheese,” she said. “It was satisfying, although that damn [jerk] is still going to be my president.”
Emily Terry, an author in Brookline, has put on five pounds since Trump’s victory.
In the days following the election she was so upset that she would forget to eat — only to become ravenous after spending time in the doom of her Facebook feed.
“I’m wearing a pair of pants that are shockingly tight,” she said on Wednesday, before expressing a bright thought. “Maybe when I go into the depression phase I’ll stop eating.”
A (smaller) group of Clinton diehards have already stopped eating out of sorrow.
But for the most part, in blue Massachusetts, the bingeing started on Election Day itself, as tension mounted.
On Nov. 8, people in Massachusetts who logged into Lose It! recorded 4.5 percent more calories than on a typical Tuesday — and ate a full 3 percent more calories than users in the rest of the country, according to the company.
Trump’s victory has had such an emotional punch that the some gluten-free types have been eating regular bread, and at least one vegan is allowing herself dairy if it means sharing a meal with friends.
“I just want to be around people,” said Rachel Greenberger, a Somerville vegan. “In this heightened state of fear and upset, if someone is trying to feed me [a dish that is vegetarian, not vegan], the human connection is more important to me than the details of my diet.”
Just as Trump’s victory has some groups protesting in the streets and pledging to commit acts of kindness, Greenberger said members of different food “tribes” — followers of the Paleo diet, raw-food adherents, the gluten-free — should find common ground.
“Softening eating behaviors can be a way of reaching across some boundaries,” she said.
Meanwhile, as Inauguration Day edges closer, Republican strategist Holly Robichaud of Scituate is feeling so energized by Trump’s victory that she’s started jogging — every day.
“I’ve lost a couple of pounds already,” she said, cheerfully.