Nobody has yet done an assessment of how COVID-19 has impacted the nation’s weight—in fact, there are reports that some people are losing weight. But John Morton, MD, MPH, MHA, medical director of bariatric surgery at Yale New Haven Health System, says he has seen patients in telehealth appointments who have gained five, 10, and even 30 pounds.1
In fact, the global pandemic has disrupted life in major ways: Gym and park closures have upended exercise routines, parents have had to work at home while teaching their children, and elective medical checkups have been postponed, whereas updates on blood pressure, AC1 and cholesterol numbers would have been motivation to think about weight.
WebMD readers in the U.S. cited a number of reasons for their weight gain in a poll conducted on May 17. About 72% reported a lack of exercise. About 70% said they’ve been stress eating. An overwhelming 59% said both a lack of exercise and stress eating were a problem, and 21% attributed it to extra alcohol consumption. The same poll conducted among international readers on May 18 found 73% cited lack of exercise, 35% stress eating, and 17% to drinking more alcohol.2
Purpose gives direction, and it helps when it comes to weight management. A few pounds short term may not make a difference. It could be fluid. It might be just a little weight gain while we establish new routines. Obviously, the more weight we gain and the longer it’s maintained, the more it affects our health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, for example, it’s been shown that children’s weight tracks to some extent. If children establish those habits, or lack of healthy habits when they’re young and they gain weight, that might persist as they go into adolescence and adulthood.3 This is a great time to role model healthy eating habits. In fact, cooking can be a family affair and a source of quality time.
With adults, it’s more important for some people than others to manage weight. Weight gain of a few pounds can hurt people who have diabetes or high blood pressure, as the extra weight can increase their blood glucose and blood pressure.4 So, it’s important to establish new habits that help maintain a healthy weight even when we are sequestered at home.
Here are a few tips on keeping unwanted poundage off by practicing Active Wellness:
• Create a daily routine. Include wake-up time, bed time and meal times. Even if you are working at home now, adhere to a schedule.
• If you are home more than usual, take the time to learn about healthy foods and do more cooking. Restaurant food is generally higher in calories but when you’re the cook, you can focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
• Control your portions. Practice eating until you’re 70% to 80% full.
• Eat proteins first, because they will make you feel full. Too many carbohydrates can cause swings in blood sugar.
• If you simply do not cook and have no interest in it, resist ready-made processed foods. Instead choose a healthy meal replacement drink like Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix at least once daily. It’s high in plant protein, MCTs and sweetened with all-natural, zero-calorie monkfruit.
• For those with finicky children, keep offering fruits and vegetables but don’t add more stress if they refuse them. Kenzen® Total Vegan Drink Mix is a yummy alternative that delivers four recommended daily servings of vegetables and fruits with a single scoop.
• Schedule regular exercise. Exercise is not the main factor for weight loss, but it plays a role in keeping weight off as well as helping loosen stiff joints. Remember the simple rule that fewer calories consumed than expended is what produces weight loss. There are many ways to exercise at home.
• Get a good night’s sleep. Those who do not get restful sleep tend to gain weight!
• Decide how to manage stress. Meditation, prayer, yoga, listening to soothing music, playing a musical instrument, reading, etc. It all depends on what relaxes you best. Enjoy the time you have at home and stay healthy and active!