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Staying Active, Nutrition, COVID-19

Did You Gain the Quarantine 15?

As Delaware begins to reopen, many people may notice a 15-pound weight gain in the wake of quarantining, working from home, schedule changes, and homeschooling. Now what?

With summer just around the corner, and clothes feeling too tight, how can you get back to pre-pandemic weight? Bayhealth dietitian Alice Miller, LD, RDN, offers some suggestions to change eating habits and shed pounds in a healthy manner.

  • Figure out the root of the issue. Identify stressors. “It’s easy to overeat, and it often becomes unconscious, like taking a small piece of candy each time you walk past a co-worker’s candy dish,” she said. Miller suggests keeping track of what you eat, either using an app or simply writing it down. “It’s important to write down the amount too.”
  • Get moving. “Gyms are closed until June 1, so people aren’t exercising to compensate for the extra calories,” she noted. Still, there are opportunities to exercise at home through YouTube or app-based programs. “Some gyms offer televised classes,” Miller said. Exercise can be tailored to your schedule and available equipment. “Ten minutes and body weight workouts can make a difference. If you do 10 minutes, something is better than nothing.”
  • Find something to do with your hands. Miller suggests exploring crafts – such as knitting or crocheting, or doing crossword or jigsaw puzzles. “If your hands are occupied, you can’t be eating.”
  • Drink enough water. Dehydration is often mistaken for feelings of hunger. “Water helps keep you feeling full,” Miller said. And it doesn’t have to be bland. Adding frozen fruit to water or drinking a warm herbal tea can be more satisfying – and hydrating.
  • Monitor your alcohol intake. “The biggest thing about being stuck inside is alcohol. People forget that alcohol has almost as many calories as fat: seven calories per gram vs. nine calories for fat.” Most mixers, she said, contain a lot of sugar. “Alcohol in moderation is one drink per day for women – two for men, and most people don’t know what one serving of alcohol looks like. It’s important to figure out why you’re drinking more, why you’re stressed out.”
  • Comfort food can be a culprit. Miller sees frequent social media posts relating to comfort foods, baking bread or making cheesecake, for example. “If you are having comfort food, be aware of it, and have a healthy mindset.” Comfort food can be made with healthier substitutions; making macaroni and cheese with cauliflower instead of pasta, for example.
  • Figure out your motivation. While you may not want to go to the beach this summer, is your goal to be healthier or not to gain weight? Or both?

To make an appointment with an outpatient dietitian at either Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus or Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus, please call Bayhealth Outpatient Nutrition Services at 302-744-6828.


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