Quarantine 2020: How Has it Changed Your Eating Habits?

In a recent conversation with some RD colleagues, we discussed a trend that we’ve noticed in talking to friends, family members and some new patients: a real concern that fears over Covid-19 and anxiety during the recent stay-at-home period has led to unwanted weight gain. Is this yet another stress factor that we need to add to our list of worries during these troublesome times?

I just saw a research poll that found that the average American has added five pounds during the pandemic, and that two-thirds are afraid they’ll never lose it. Something like 65% said that they feel less healthy now than they did 8 weeks ago, mostly due to lack of exercise and “poor” eating. If that describes you, you’re in good company.

But please don’t stress about it! Quarantine 2020 has taxed our mental and emotional strength enough, without adding what is most likely a temporary weight increase to the mix. These last weeks at home, and the coming weeks of learning new practices as we safely reopen, should be about one thing: staying well! (Oh, and flattening the curve, to keep others in our community safe from coronavirus.) This is a time to do whatever it takes to keep yourself and your kids occupied and engaged – and if that means baking cookies together for the third time this week, well, pass the whisk.

As dietitians, my colleagues and I agreed that of course, we care about healthy eating. But we care more about healthy people, and we know that includes mental and emotional health, as well as physical. Many, many things changed suddenly in our world over the past three months, and it’s going to take some time to rebound and find our footing again.

If you’ve missed your exercise class or gym visits, by all means, head back to them, but not until you can do so safely. Have your family meals included an abundance of your teen’s favorite tacos-with-extra-cheese-sour-cream-and-guacamole nights, like mine have? If you have a couple of extra pounds now to show for it, well, that’s a small price to pay for coming out of this horrifying pandemic with your family safe! Take heart that this too, shall pass. And when it does, that will be time enough to think about losing any extra pounds you may have picked up along the way.

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