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quarantine stress: coping with weight gain

Quarantine Stress: Coping With Weight Gain

Are you having issues at work or at home? Are you feeling bored during this quarantine? Is hearing the news about Coronavirus stressing you out? Have you noticed a bulge around your mid-section that wasn’t there before? Where are these extra pounds coming from? Stress could be one of the reasons. It plays a great role in weight gain. It may make you have less of an appetite at first but long-term chronic stress actually boosts your hunger. Other than stress, a key issue with self-isolation at home is access to food at all times. Maintaining a healthy diet is key to fighting off.

Fight and Flight
When we’re feeling a lot of pressure, most of us become overeaters. This happens because of the fight-or-flight response, known as survival mode. Once your body reaches a certain stress level, it thinks you’ve used calories to deal with this stress, even though you haven’t. As a result, it thinks you need to restock those calories, even though you don’t.

Cortisol and Comfort Foods
Levels of cortisol, “the stress hormone,” increase during tension-filled times, and we sure are living a tension-filled time now with the physical distancing in COVID quarantine time. This can turn the overeating into a habit because increased levels of this hormone also cause higher insulin level so your blood sugar will drop and you will crave sugary fatty foods. So instead of a salad or a fruit, you’re more likely to reach for mac and cheese or cookies, reason why they’re called “comfort foods.” Eating can be a source of consolation and can lower stress. This happens because the body releases chemicals in response to food that might have a straight calming effect. Sugary and fatty foods are usually the big culprits, because many of us have such a strong love for them, but in fact they could also be fuel to more stress, not just weight gain.

Healthy comfort foods
But what we don’t know is that comfort food can be healthy. Here are some smart choices to keep you healthy and get you comfy when the corona lockdown brings you down.

–       Homemade popcorn
–       Pretzels
–       Hummus with cut up carrots or cucumbers
–       Low-Fat Ice Cream (or Sherbet)
–       Peanut butter with whole wheat toast
–       Flavored yogurt 0 fat 0 sugar
–       Edamame
–       Baked garlic fries
–       Protein desserts such as protein bars and puddings 
–       Salty protein snacks such as protein chips 

Finally, try to let go of the fear that’s taking over because of the coronavirus situation, don’t obsess over gaining weight during the quarantine, and cut yourself some slack, you’re already going through a lot.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon

Author Info

Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian