Is America overweight because we don’t get enough affection? The Italians and the French are very demonstrative and have much fewer weight problems than we do. As we become less tribal a nation and more isolated, are we getting touched enough? My friend and body worker, John Vosler has a booming practice in a crisis driven economy. People are cutting back on psychotherapy but not on massages. As social communities like Facebook and twitter grow, we are seeing one another in the flesh less. Yes, it gives us up to the moment information on everything everyone is doing but is that a replacement for a hug and a kiss. If you’re married or in relationship, maybe those needs are getting met but I would surmise we are turning to food for passion and intimacy as we become more isolated.
When you go to Paris, people are kissing and touching each other everywhere. Yes, I know our country was founded by puritans, but is the rise of internet porn really a distorted craving for more intimacy? I suggest we need to make a concerted effort to touch one another physically more often. I see in my practice plenty of couples who although they are still having sex, have stopped cuddling and kissing on the mouth. And with those who are not married, when you are with a friend, reach out and touch that person while you talk to them. Maybe because I was raised with an Italian father, I find that when I am with anyone I care about, if I don’t physically touch them, I feel that I haven’t really touched them emotionally.
As a stress management technique, giving and receiving affection throughout the day will transform your relationships and I submit, will reduce your craving for sugar and unhealthy fats. I think I will call it The Tenderness Diet. Instead of drinking green tea or acai to lose weight, give someone a hug… and then reach for the chocolate. You may find you eat less of it.
Dr. Toni Galardi is a licensed psychotherapist and is starting a group in person for those who need the physical contact a teleclass just doesn’t provide called ” Thriving in the Chaos”. 310-712-2600.