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Avoiding weight gain while staying home

Last Modified: April 17, 2020

Family Medicine

Weight gain

You set the goal, put in the hard work and now you’re stuck trapped in the house following the stay-at-home order trying to maintain the weight loss you’ve achieved. It can be so stressful! Now isn’t the time to give up. Amanda Sytsma, clinical dietician, PPG – Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery, explains the importance of staying on track with a healthy diet and exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to maintain weight loss and decrease stress.

During this time, it’s easy to fall into a habit of increased snacking and grazing due to a more flexible schedule, added stress and boredom. While this is to be expected, it’s important to try and keep a consistent schedule to help avoid mindless eating. Try not to eat while you are on phone calls, watching television or on the computer, since it’s easy to not pay attention to hunger cues or what your body is telling you during those times.

Now is the perfect time to step out of your comfort zone and try experimenting with new foods and recipes that you haven’t had before. Try to focus on lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. You can set yourself up for success by stocking your pantry with foods that are going to keep you on track. Avoid filling your pantry with temptations that add unnecessary calories.

Another tip is to measure your portions. You could be eating all the right foods, but if you are eating too much then you are adding extra calories to your diet.

Dealing with stress

Changes in your emotions during quarantine can also have effects on your body as well. Stress can cause the body to secrete cortisol, which is designed to give us energy to outrun a threat. Since there is no real threat, that cortisol gets stored as belly fat. High levels of cortisol can also make you crave sugar and refined carbohydrates for quick energy. It’s important to acknowledge what you’re feeling and develop healthy coping skills. Try implementing meditation, journaling, adult coloring books, exercising or puzzles to relieve stress.

Giving yourself grace

Adjusting to this “new normal” can be tough, and it’s important that you give yourself grace. Instead of focusing on your pants fitting more snuggly, think about the little things you can try during this time to improve your overall health. Take a look at your pantry and consider updates you can make. Work on portion control. Set up a consistent schedule that you can stick to on a daily basis. Look at this time as a way to experiment with new healthy habits that you can extend into your life after quarantine.

Quick tips for staying on track
  • Keep a food log.
  • Measure your portions.
  • Make sure you stock up on foods that will help keep you on track.
  • Make a snack bin with appropriate snacks that have been pre-portioned. Examples of healthy snacks include hard-boiled eggs, cheese sticks, low-fat yogurt, fruit, vegetables and slices of rolled-up deli meat.
  • Limit your liquid calories and focus on water intake. Have a goal of drinking at least 64 ounces a day.
  • Remember, there are no “bad foods”. There are just foods that we should eat less frequently or in smaller portions.


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