Dealing with Weight Changes During COVID-19

Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 differently when it comes to its implications on nutrition, diet, and weight. The “COVID 19” is very real for some people. This is similar to the “freshman 15” and refers to weight gained while sheltering in place during the pandemic.

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Many people comfort themselves during times of stress by satisfying food cravings. People also turn to food out of boredom following the decline in activities and social interactions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Depression and anxiety can also cause people to engage in unhealthy and unbalanced food choices.

On the other hand, some people have lost weight during quarantine. This could be due to healthy reasons such as dining out less, cooking more from scratch, and participating in more physical activity. Weight loss could also be due to unhealthy reasons such as stress, anxiety, and/or depression causing a decline in appetite or rejection of food.

Here are some ways to address these COVID-19-related nutrition and weight changes as certain aspects of life return to normal and social distancing requirements are relaxed.

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Tips for the “COVID 19” Weight Gain

  • Identify the reason you’re eating more than before and address that root cause.
  • Plan and portion out your snacks for each day to prevent overeating.
  • Try chewing gum instead of eating.
  • Drink extra water and calorie-free beverages.
  • Channel your energy into starting an exercise regimen.
  • Find ways to cope with stress that do not involve food.
  • Start keeping a log of everything you eat and drink.
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer screen. If you’re hungry, sit at the table to eat.
  • Eat three meals a day—don’t skip.
  • Participate in a virtual weight loss challenge with friends.
  • Seek professional help for mental health or nutrition needs.

Tips for COVID-19-Induced Weight Loss

  • If weight loss is healthy and needed to occur, keep up the great work!
  • Identify the root cause of your weight loss, if unplanned.
  • If the weight loss was unhealthy or unplanned, seek professional help from a mental health professional and/or registered dietitian.

We will all have to adjust back to a more normal lifestyle as social distancing guidelines relax. Be ready for a nutritional learning curve once routines change try to maintain healthy habits established during the time at home.

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Courtney Lee, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT, CFCS consults locally with Dietitians On Demand and also has a virtual private practice, Kitchen Nutrition, LLC. Courtney enjoys equipping dietitians and dietetic interns with the tools they need for professional success so they don’t have to learn the hard way. Courtney enjoys baking, running, and hosting friends and family in her home.
Find her on Instagram @yourkitchennutrition.

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