COVID-19 Update: Avoid Weight Gain During Self-quarantine

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With the national mandate to stay at home, people (and their families) are having to readjust to eating patterns. Snack and comfort food sales are soaring as people stay at home during the coronavirus crisis. According to grocery store reports, popcorn sales rose almost 48%, pretzel sales were up 47% and potato chip sales rose 30% compared to the same period last year. With people encouraged to support local drive-thru and take-out food chains, finding healthy food choices may create a challenge. 

Here are a few ideas to control additional weight gain:

1) Snack Wisely: During this ‘stay-at-home’ time, unhealthy snacks like cookies and other goodies tend to be available for you to use as comfort mental food. Put the snacks away from view as when treats are easy to access, you are more likely to snack unnecessarily.

2) Watch Your Portion Size: The best way to overcome this is to control portion sizes and use smaller plates or serving dishes.  Make your snack tray in the kitchen and only place a small treat on the dish, and then seal back up the bag or container.

3) Plan Your Meals: Prepare a written meal plan for the next two weeks to avoid having to go to the store randomly when you realize you are out of or need something. Planning ahead can go a long way towards preventing COVID-19 weight gain.

4) Eat – Just Eat: Make mealtime a special experience and turn off social media and the TV. Use mealtime as the chance to talk about everything going on that can make the family unit more enjoyable and less stressful.

5) Make Meals Healthful: It is important to include some protein with every meal, as it promotes fullness and may be useful for weight maintenance (and to keep those extra pounds off). Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, and some plant foods like beans and quinoa.

6) Avoid Processed Foods: While most processed foods are quick and easy, these foods often contain excess sugar and unhealthy fats that take a toll on your weight.

7) Don’t Use Foods to Suppress Stress: Keeping up with the demands of dealing with the current COVID-19 crisis can be stressful. Stressed individuals commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s released in response to stress. Chronically high cortisol levels may cause weight gain, as they have been linked to greater food intake. It’s all so tempting during this COVID-19 crisis as people stay at home — bored, anxious and stressed — to seek relief by eating all day and night.  Sedentary activities, such as sitting on the couch watching TV, searching the internet, and social networking are common activities for many families, even when not dealing with the stay-at-home request. Inactivity may contribute to weight gain, especially if accompanied by overeating.

Get Healthy: Doing some type of movement and physical activity with your family may prove beneficial for weight control. Even something as simple as a family walk can get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones. Find that old baseball mitt and practice throwing a ball around – keeps you more than six feet apart. Get some chalk markers and thank the neighbors or write a cute saying.

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