Wouldn’t it be great to sail through the rest of winter without putting on any extra ‘quarantine pounds’ from being in the house? You can! Chilly weather tamps down the brain’s production of the metabolism-charging hormone dopamine, but Georgetown University scientists say lifting levels boosts stamina and eases cravings. And it’s easy with these tips to dodge any more winter weight gain!
Pick a Pinterest craft.
When you’re craving something unhealthy, take 10 minutes to scroll through fun Pinterest crafts. You don’t even have to pick up embroidery thread — just daydreaming about what you’d love to try increases dopamine release by 45 percent for 2 hours. And higher levels of dopamine quell cravings. That’s the word from British researchers, who say your brain responds to creative ideas and happy daydreams by releasing this energizing, motivating hormone.
Grab the mail.
Feeling a cool breeze on your face for as little as 60 seconds —like you do when you pop outside to pick up the mail — can double your brain’s dopamine release, suggests a study in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences. The payoff: That brief (but big!) dopamine spike quashes cravings, plus heightens your alertness, energy and focus for up to 3 hours. This everyday routine is sure to prevent any unnecessary quarantine weight gain.
Swing your arms.
Get the munchies when you settle in on the couch? Almost 80 percent of us do! Neurobiologist Tom Lin, MD, says once your muscles stop moving, your brain’s production of appetite-taming dopamine plunges. To prevent snack attacks, take 1 minute just before sitting down to stretch the large muscles in your body. Try swinging your arms or reaching for your toes. Canadian scientists say bursts of motion up dopamine production by 65 percent for 1 hour.
Spice things up.
Your brain makes dopamine, but so do “good” bacteria in your intestines, says Tim Dinan, MD. And research in Psychopharmacology suggests eating 1⁄2 teaspoon of turmeric daily (with a pinch of pepper to boost absorption) energizes these dopamine producing bacteria in as little as 72 hours. The payoff: a 30 percent increase in joy, stamina, and appetite control.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.