Since when did COVID-19 refer to weight gain?

I’m sheltering at home and can’t quite keep myself from snacking. 

Yes, it was a patient who mentioned the “COVID-5” to me during a telemedicine call; it brought back not-so-fond memories of the “freshman 15.” The longer we stay at home, with our routines disrupted, the more challenged we are to maintain a healthy weight.

I’ve talked to a few women who’ve found a silver lining. For one woman, the inability to pick up a caramel latte reduces her intake by a couple hundred calories each day. Another has set a daily habit of a salad for lunch. And one more has upped her breakfast game with fresh fruit and granola, which she’s finding sets her up well for a day of intentional eating. 

Be kind to yourself even as you work to get yourself on a healthier, more sustainable path.

From the conversations I’ve had, it seems like snacking is the most pervasive eating issue in this time. If that’s true for you, there are a couple of tactics I’d recommend.

  • If it’s boredom that’s giving you the urge, decide on an activity you’ll do when you’re called to snack. You can do a set of arm exercises, for example, or take a brisk walk up and down your stairs. Call a friend! Sort out a drawer. The urge will pass, I promise.
  • You can also redirect your urge into a low-calorie option. A cup of hot tea will both occupy you in the making and satisfy low-level hunger pangs. Celery or carrot sticks, a handful of nuts, or an apple can satisfy your craving and make you feel virtuous at the same time.

For me, eating and exercise go together. When I’m consciously caring for my body, I make better choices about food. I don’t want my exercise to go to waste! If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to design a fitness routine that fits your circumstances. I’m living near a place that accommodates solitary hikes, for which I’m grateful. Friends are doing yoga (of which I’m a fan not only as exercise but as stress reduction) with apps or online videos. I’ve also seen dance workout and circuit training videos online; you can change it up, if you like, to keep yourself motivated.

Finally, I’m well aware of the role of food as comfort during stressful times. Please be kind to yourself even as you work to get yourself back on a more healthful, sustainable path. With some thoughtful consideration, you can make room for that Chunky Monkey ice cream—after your green salad lunch and your afternoon workout.