Pandemic Lockdown Weight Gain & the Medical Reasons for it

At a time when Americans should have been focused on their health, as a population they were anything but. During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown the average American gained two pounds a month, according to a study published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Network Open).

But the reasons for this trend were the result of brain chemistry that evolved in humans over the millennia, according to well respected neurologist, Dr. Steven Goldstein, founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative. He described these on his regular podcast that can be heard on Apple PodcastsAudacyHouston Healthcare Initiative, iHeartPodcast AddictPodbeanBacktracksSoundcloud, and just about anywhere podcasts can be heard.

Stress & More Stress

Dr. Goldstein told his audience that the main reason for the weight gain was related to stress. “The main reason is stress, especially given the really bad news about the seriousness of the pandemic and the controversies about different treatments early on,” he told his listeners. “That was stress of a long duration which exacerbated the physiological accompaniments of stress.”

Fight or Flight Responses

As part of the ‘fight or flight’ response, the human brain goes on high alert. To maintain a high state of alertness requires more energy for the brain in the form of calories. “Heightened states of stress and anxiety like this require more calories to keep the brain on high alert, Dr. Goldstein stated. “We eat sugar to get a boost of energy. Sugar gets converted to energy faster but does not last long, requiring more sugar. It is a cycle that is unhealthy short term, but really bad long term.”

Long Term Fear of the Unknown

On top of that stress was the unknown. No one living had ever experienced anything like the Covid-19 pandemic and closure of practically everything. According to Dr. Goldstein, not knowing was a huge problem for the American psyche. Research shows that the unknown makes people more stressed than when they know something is about to happen. “In late March, April, and May of last year we really didn’t know what we were dealing with, in terms of how contagious the Covid-19 virus was or how potentially fatal it might be,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Obviously then, the unknowns of the virus and the dramatic worldwide lock downs were things none of us had any experience with and that is the perfect recipe for stress, anxiety and the overeating that accompanies both.”

To Flee or Not to Flee

Stress like this is in reaction to the ‘fight or flight’ response that is hard-wired into the consciousness of humans. According to the web site Psychology Tools, the fight or flight response is ‘an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening. The perception of threat activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers an acute stress response that prepares the body to fight or flee.’ When the duration of this automatic response is months or even over an entire year, part of the evidence that Americans endured all this stress is registered on the scale.

Brain Chemistry

So what in the human psyche links eating with stress? “Humans evolved such that when faced with stress, the body does what it must to keep the brain on high alert,” Dr. Goldstein reported. “It decreases levels of some hormones and brain chemicals to discourage behaviors that won’t help in an urgent situation, and it increases other hormones that will.” Dr. Goldstein added more details, “our ancestors had to outrun predators and other humans or be ready to fight them. Thus, we evolved to release adrenaline in response to the fight or flight response. From an evolutionary perspective, that stress responses are tuned to environmental uncertainty suggests that they gave people a better chance at survival, depending on who or what was chasing you.”

A Gut Feeling

Dr. Goldstein also explained that there was a connection between the brain and the stomach. “The brain is connected to the gut through a two-way communication system called the vagus nerve,” he said. “When you are stressed, your body inhibits the signals that travel through the vagus nerve and slows down the digestive process.”  Eating for comfort can be a natural response to stress, but when combined with the lower motivation to exercise and consumption of low-nutrient, calorie-dense food, people can and did gain weight.

About the Houston Healthcare Initiative

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast with Dr. Steven Goldstein is an information vehicle for people who want to know all medical options for themselves and are interested in reforming the healthcare industry. To learn more about the Houston Healthcare Initiative please visit www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Sorry We’ve Been MIA- We’ve Had #Covid19

So, we’ve been a little hard to reach lately, and the emails have been stacking up. I wanted to share with you that we’ve had Covid-19, and were very, very sick for quite a minute there. Now that we are starting to get back online and back to “normal” lives again, we wanted to let you know that we didn’t forget about anyone and we are going to get back to every single one of you.

I have a few winners to announce, and lots of items I had planned for my annual “Holiday Gift Guide”, but I was just to sick to do it this year, I apologize. I tried to get on as much as I could, but it wasn’t a lot. I really wan’t well.

We made a short video for you, thank you for sticking with us and for understanding.

PLEASE BE SAFE out there. As hard as we tried and as little as we went out, we still got sick. Take every precaution, I hope you all stay healthy and have a wonderful 2021. Hugs!

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE Extends Brookside Cabaret Through the Summer Live Performances and Fine Dining

Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Michael Stotts-Managing Director) announced today that it will continue its popular live Brookside Cabaret every Thursday and Saturday night through September with a talented roster of Broadway and Paper Mill favorites.

Brookside Cabaret will feature performances by Matt CastleDwayne Clark, the Louis Danowsky TrioElizabeth Ward LandErin Maguire, Nicole Vanessa Ortiz, Kyle Taylor Parker, Kelli Rabke, Joe Regan, Susan Speidel, and Rema Webb.

“We are so grateful to be working with these extraordinary performers and to have a chance to provide them with the audiences they have been yearning for since the shutdown in March. Brookside Cabaret has been a huge hit with audiences and performers. Now we are looking forward to an exciting summer ​of great entertainment in our beautiful courtyard. We’ll keep the cabaret going as long as the weather holds up,” says Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director.

“The Carriage House Restaurant has been adored by Paper Mill’s theater patrons and considered a great amenity for our audience. This time has given the restaurant a real chance to shine and to become a destination on its own. We are happy the community is enjoying the food, atmosphere and entertainment,” says Mike Stotts, Managing Director.

Brookside Cabaret and Dining is sponsored by PNC Wealth Management and Szerlip & Co.

Carriage House Restaurant Brookside Dining Wednesday–Sunday

The Carriage House Restaurant at the F.M. Kirby Carriage House opens for alfresco dining at 5:00PM Wednesday–Saturday for prix fixe dinner as well as high-top seating for small plates and cocktails. Brunch is available on Sunday from 11:00AM to 2:00PM. Diners will enjoy live performances every Thursday and Saturday night.

Brookside dining prix fixe two-course dinner is $40 per person Wednesday and Friday, and $70 per person Thursday and Saturday with live entertainment. Small plates and cocktails are available at high-top tables ($30 minimum per person on nights with live entertainment). Sunday brunch is $30 per person including fresh fruit salad and a choice of entrée.

For menus, additional information and to make reservations, order curbside pickup, and learn more about our safety protocols, visit papermill.org/restaurant.

Brookside Cabaret Schedule of Performers, Thursday and Saturday Nights at 7pm

Thursday, July 30: Erin Maguire: An Evening of Comedy and Song

Saturday, August 1: Louis Danowsky Trio: Broadway Blues

Thursday, August 6: Matt Castle

Saturday, August 8: Susan Speidel and Joe Regan

Thursday, August 13: Matt Castle

Saturday, August 15: Louis Danowsky Trio: Broadway Blues

Thursday, August 20: Elizabeth Ward Land with Matt Castle: A Linda Ronstadt Tribute

Saturday, August 22: Susan Speidel and Joe Regan

Thursday & Saturday, August 27 & 29: Kelli Rabke with John Fischer on piano and Sean Harkness on guitar

Thursday, September 3: Elizabeth Ward Land with Matt Castle: A Linda Ronstadt Tribute

Saturday, September 5: Susan Speidel and Joe Regan

Thursday & Saturday, September 10 & 12: Nicole Vanessa Ortiz

Thursday, September 17: Kyle Taylor Parker: An Evening of Broadway Soul

Saturday, September 19: To be announced

Thursday, September 24: Dwayne Clark

Saturday, September 26: Rema Webb: A Tribute to Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald

In case of rain, Thursday night performances will be rescheduled to Friday night, and Saturday night performances will be rescheduled to Sunday night.  Patrons should plan accordingly.