If you're reading this at 11 a.m. and you already maxed out your recommended calories for the day, we feel you. Stay-home orders from state and local governments should come with refrigerator padlocks.
For the privileged employees who can work from home, those not working and for those still heading out the door for work, routines have been shredded. Schools, gyms and restaurants are closed. Hospitals and nursing homes forbid visitors. Vacations have been postponed. Weddings and funerals are on hold. Let's face it. It's a stressful time. We're spending more time indoors, and the only thing getting a serious workout is the microwave.
We're eating peanut butter by the spoonful, popcorn by the handful, ice cream by the bowlful. We're eating over the kitchen sink, standing at the counter and yes, in bed. There are toast crumbs prickling flannel sheets across America right now as testament to dutifully obeying government restrictions.
We're trying to cook healthier during this time of uncertainty. But can roasted chicken and vegetables be considered diet food if you eat four servings at a time? Isn't it an act of patriotism to order takeout burgers and fries to keep local businesses afloat? Is it wrong in the privacy of your own home to enjoy a splash of wine at noon?
Of course, the advice for controlling weight gain is to use common sense. Try to eat on your normal schedule. Plan your snacks and put them in containers. Move your work station around the house or apartment to avoid boredom. And set up shop away from your favorite cupboard — the one with the nuts, cookies and Pop-Tarts.
That's not to say everyone dealing with stay-home mandates is finding their inner Homer Simpson. Plenty of people are using the time wisely by cleaning out drawers and painting bedrooms. Some people are sticking with those New Year's resolutions and demonstrating discipline with food and exercise.
If you're not one of them, it's OK.
Alex Light, who writes a column for Hello! Magazine, reminds us weight gain is not a sign of failure.
"It's never an indicator of failing, but especially not during these current circumstances," she wrote earlier this week. "Weight fluctuations are an entirely normal response to our lives being very different right now."
Kimberly Hershenson, a New York City therapist and eating disorder specialist, told the New York Post she's seeing clients return to emotional eating habits due to stress.
"People binge because they feel everything is going wrong in their life, so who cares if they gain weight too?" she said.
If you're one of them, cut yourself some slack. Post-pandemic, we'll see the return of running clubs and crowded gyms. There will be plenty of time to shrink muffin tops and get back to sensible eating. In the meantime, if the scale in the bathroom is adding to your emotional blues, apply at least some of the advice nutritionists are offering. Get out and walk. Drink more water. Don't rely on alcohol as a coping mechanism.
And know that no matter what, summer is coming soon. Morning sun soon will stream through your windows. Cafes and bike paths will reopen. Lakes and rivers will beckon, along with barbecues and beach volleyball. It's coming. Have hope.
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