Quarantine 15: Is It a Thing and How Can We Prevent It?
Updated: Jul 10
We all distantly remember the nightmares of the “Freshmen 15” and if you don’t, I can promise you I surely do. The “Freshmen 15” refers to the 15 pounds you gain in college due to all of the stress and being unable to afford healthier options. Stress eating, constant snacking during class, and eating a ton of fast food were a few of the highlights of my college career.
Now with the COVID pandemic, stress-eating is inevitable. Going to the gym isn’t an option and it doesn’t help that dumbbells are scarce and a pair can easily go for over $200. If you thought the “Freshmen 15” was bad, I introduce you to your newest enemy, the “Quarantine 15.” If you struggle with anxiety or depression, it can be easy to succumb to unhealthy eating habits. We are in a time of a lot of uncertainties.
Food can easily become a source of comfort and while at first, it might not seem harmful, our habits can easily become unhealthy. If you’re just as prepared as I am, I can assure you that your pantry is probably the fullest it’s ever been. Here are some tips to help you make the “Quarantine 15” a distant reality.
1. Know Why You’re Eating
The walk to the fridge is probably second nature to you as it is to me. Before I grab a quick snack, I ask myself “Why are you here?” If it’s because I didn’t have a sufficient dinner, I go ahead and grab a healthy snack of my choosing. Usually, I can stop myself before reaching for a snack by being mindful of why I’m grabbing a quick bite.
Another tip I do myself is instead of snacking when I’m not hungry, I swap out my urge to eat with water. I keep a goal of how much water I should drink daily. However, if self-control is a little more difficult for you, you should keep a food journal.
Write down what you’re eating, how much of it you’re having, and why you’re snacking. Writing down your emotions while you’re grabbing a snack can help you determine why you are seeking food as a source of your emotions.
2. Stay Active
While we can’t go to the gym, there are a lot of YouTube videos to help you keep on top of your exercise routine. If you lack the resources just like the rest of us, you can still get a workout in. There are a lot of substitutes you can use for things such as dumbells; try using gallons of water or a bottle of your liquid detergent.
The liquid in the bottles makes your workouts a little more challenging since the liquid isn’t a stable weight. If staying active is not something you’re wanting to do, try practicing yoga and meditation to help you manage your emotions.
3. We're in This Together
It’s very difficult not to be able to visit our loved ones or our friends. You should know that you’re not in this alone. When you feel yourself wanting to reach for a snack and you know you’re not hungry or you feel very alone. Try calling or texting a friend or family member.
Remember, you’re not the only one in quarantine. We are all having a very similar experience. This will also help keep you accountable and prevent you from reaching for a snack.
Try designating times when you call your friends and family. They probably appreciate the call as much as you do. This will give you something to look forward to.
4. Buy Healthy Snacks
It’s very difficult to walk down the snack aisle and not reach for a bag of Lays. If snacking has become part of your daily quarantine life, you should try healthier alternatives such as dried fruit or almonds. Also, consider buying fresh fruits and vegetables as well.
If you don’t buy unhealthy snacks, you can’t eat them. After you purchase a healthy assortment of snacks, try portioning them out. This practice doesn’t have to only apply to snacks, but can also apply to meals as well. Portioning out meals and snacks will help prevent you from over-snacking.
Sometimes when we’re snacking or eating, it’s very hard to keep track of how much we’re actually consuming. By making small bags, it’s easy to track what you’re eating and how much you’re eating of it. This can also help you keep a maintainable eating schedule.
Quarantine affects us all in different ways. It’s okay to gain weight during this time, but keeping a healthy relationship with food is highly important. Food cannot become a source of emotional coping. If you keep a food journal, accountability becomes easy.
Staying active allows you to help you better manage your emotions and keeps the thoughts of eating at bay. Remembering you’re not in this alone can help you channel your emotions and allow your loved ones or friends to guide you during this troubling time.
If snacking is inevitable, be aware of the snacks you’re buying. Keep your snacks healthy to help you maintain great eating habits. Just know, your health is important and you are in control of keeping the “Quarantine 15” from not becoming a reality.
If you would like to learn about living a healthy lifestyle, check out our article about Jump Starting A Healthy Lifestyle for Beginners.