A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Quarantine 15: Tips to help you manage your weight during COVID

How to handle weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic

Since COVID-19, does your refrigerator call your name because you’re working from home? This advice can help make the “Quarantine 15” weight gain stop.

Since COVID-19 lockdown, does your refrigerator call your name because you’re working from home?

Is it hard to keep the snack drawer replenished because everyone’s indoors, bored silly and tempted to eat-eat-eat?

Is exercise a distant memory since pajama pants are part of your routine and you’ve developed a sedentary lifestyle?

This advice can help make the “Quarantine 15” weight gain stop.

Chrisanne Urban, a Marshfield Clinic Health System registered dietitian, gives us hope and tips.

“The pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways and it’s not going away no matter how much we want it all gone,” she said. “It’s disrupted our lives but we need to look at it as having a little bump on the path of our lives and not let it get the better of us. Part of overall wellbeing is taking care of the body whether during COVID, pre-COVID or post-COVID. It’s so important to take good care of yourself no matter what and it’s more important now with stresses we’re feeling.”

COVID has caused change, she explained, “and what do people do when they’re under stress? They eat to cope and the chaos of changed routines has led us to do more stress eating.”

We’ve seen pros and cons to working from home, virtually learning from home, socializing from home. A big con, though, has been poor eating habits and gaining weight. “So make a plan,” Urban said. “It’s never too late to make changes.”

Urban recommends:

  • Structure – get your structure back and if you’ve never had it before now is a good time to start. Structure time for eating, planning meals, sleep, play, grocery shopping. Then write those times down. Stick to the structure. Don’t skip meals since it could lead to a binge. “We don’t live in a perfect world but do the best you can since lack of structure causes more stress,” she said.
  • A safe, healthy eating environment at home – “why do we buy food – to eat! If you’re at home working or learning, surround yourself with healthy foods. Cookies are my nemesis so I don’t bring them home,” she said.
  • Activity – “I’ve had more than one person tell me they’re not spending time in the car driving to work so they have more time for activity,” Urban said. “Anything is better than nothing.”
  • Mindful eating – what are you eating and tasting? When you eat just eat. Concentrate on the food so turn off computers and TVs. Put cellphones away. Set up a nice table and encourage your kids to do the setting. “We all think we feel hunger,” she said. “Remember who’s in control. Train your mind that you’re in control, not the food. It’s tummy hunger vs. head hunger. You ate two hours ago and you’re hungry so that’s not tummy hunger.”
  • Eat five low-calorie high-nutrient fruits and veggies a day. Urban’s tip is to buy a veggie, like cabbage, slice it and munch on it during the week. Or delve into carrots, celery and cauliflower.
  • Keep food records. If this causes more stress don’t include it in your plan.

Urban’s final tip?

Pick two or three of these suggestions so getting back on track isn’t overwhelming, “especially since ‘be overwhelmed’ is not part of the plan,” she said.

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