We are going through a time that almost feels surreal, as if it’s not really happening, but it is. Every day we seek normal but somehow it’s not.
And with it comes many challenges, some seem apparent, while others not so.
Over the months I’m hearing more and more people tell me they’re gaining weight. Yes, for sure I work in the field of eating disorders, body image, and weight challenges so it would seem normal to hear such talk, but I’m hearing this from everyone.
Friends and family are telling me they can’t stop eating. Patients are telling me they can’t stop eating. Maybe you can’t stop eating. What is going on you might ask?
Perhaps it’s the quarantine-fifteen. What the heck is that? Well, it’s when you pick up weight as almost a given due to new circumstances. Did you pick up the quarantine-fifteen during your shut-in and social distancing? You know, like the Freshman-Fifteen, where the new student picks up an additional amount of weight during the first year at college, but in our case it’s after a shut-in for nearly four months, and ongoing.
The Freshman-fifteen is a universal expression, but with a different twist, contingent on what part of the world you live. I’ve heard expressions such as: First year Fatties, Fresher Spread, or Fresher Five. Depending on where you reside it may be any one of these expressions, but regardless of what you call it, it’s understood, by all, that there will be a weight gain for many when they leave the home for the first time and venture off on their own into the adult world.
Though the saying insinuates there will be fifteen pounds gained, actually, it was at one time only 10 ten pounds but somewhere along the way the freshman-ten was bumped up to fifteen. So what the heck does the college gain have to do with a pandemic? Well, it’s another new journey for the first time for all, a pandemic of such great magnitude, without the experience to carry us along. When you went off to college you were entering the sphere of the unknown.
And with this pandemic, it seems we again are venturing into a foreign area of uncertainty. Sure others that walked before us experienced pandemics, but most of us have not, especially to this capacity world-wide. Today, with the shut-ins and unknown the virus weight is going up for many.
Eating more and moving less, that simple. I hear it at work from patients that their weight is going up. It makes sense.
During hurricanes people are shut in with all kinds of “hurricane foods” and party down, and they gain weight. On some level this has that feel but this is no party with COVID but it’s definitely a time people are less active, more nervous and picking up weight.
Eating more and moving less, that simple.
Also during a hurricane it’s not months and months of staying put. We are finishing out our fourth month here in the states.
I’d be willing to wager that more people are picking up weight during this unprecedented time than not. And maybe you are one of those finding it’s tough to maintain or release weight.
In a poll of more than 1,000 U.S. readers of WebMD, nearly half of the women and almost one-quarter of the men said they’d gained weight “due to COVID restrictions.
For sure many were unable to leave their home due to statewide restrictions leaving much more idle time. Many of us are either working at home or working via Zoom and Video Sessions at our office, leaving little movement and closer proximity to the munchies.
I can say without a doubt the majority of the patients I work with there is concern of weight gain not to mention my friends and family. Obesity and overweight have been a concern long before the pandemic hit, but now it’s become even more so with the lack of exercise, stress eating, and alcohol consumption on the rise.
What really caught my attention on Webmd was the international poll, readers in these countries reported the most weight gain with Italy leading at 66% and Brazil at 60%. Truth be told, the average weight gain in the first year of college for most is not fifteen pounds but closer to five—but there are those that do pick up weight in the higher range.
And the same holds true in our pandemic scare, all over the world, weight gain is happening. And for sure when our lives return back to normal most of us will be more active and our weight will normalize.
In the meantime, put on your mask, if near people, and take a walk daily, or ride your bike or if you have a pool swim some laps.
If possible make all foods fresh, filling up on vegetables and lean protein with good sources of fats.
Stay away from fried foods, sugar-laden foods including everything processed. If you want a snack choose fruit and cheese, or make a coconut/banana smoothie.
Drink loads of water and when possible get up from you work station and move around, stretch your legs and reach for the sky.
Call a friend, zoom your family, arrange your closets or clean out the garage rather than blind eating to numb out and you will feel much better, I promise.
You don’t have to be a weight-gain statistic during these unprecedented times just like you don’t have to gain weight when you go on vacation, enter college dorm-life or have a celebration of some sort. Remember, this to shall pass…
Are you gaining weight? Do you find the more you stay in the more you are eating? What are you doing to prevent weight gain? Do you feel lonely and disconnected and find your turning to food? What about stress, have you been undergoing excessive worry? Share your experience….
Stay tuned…you never know where my mind will wander…
Hugs to you…I care!
Dr. Ortigara Crego
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Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.