Posted by Kristina Mullahoo, RD, MSc on January 27, 2021
Kristina Mullahoo, RD, MSc

It may seem like a lifetime ago, but, before the pandemic hit, you had a steady routine – you went to the gym, did activities, packed your lunch for work, went out with friends and family. But then the lockdowns happened and all your routines went out the window, and somehow, so did many of your lifestyle habits.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. 

At least 1/3 of people consulting dietitians at Dialogue over the past few months have experienced changes in their weight due to circumstances related to the pandemic. These changes in weight can be caused by variables like:

  • Experiencing more stress
  • Being less active – no longer commuting to work, fitness centers are closed, or lack of motivation
  • Drinking more alcohol
  • Eating more – your fridge and pantry are suddenly available to you all day long, or maybe you decided to become a Master Chef with all your extra time!

Whatever your situation, you might still be asking yourself, how did I let things get so out of control? Here are a few possible explanations:

Emotional eating. Food is an enjoyable experience, and when we have negative emotions, such as the stress caused by all the uncertainty around us, it is human nature to relieve this by indulging in something pleasurable – in this case, food (or alcohol). So, when we are reaching for that sweet or savory snack soon after finishing a meal, it may be a craving induced by something negative we are feeling and not because we are still hungry.

Triggering our sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Any kind of stress we might be feeling – whether it’s being chased by a sabertooth tiger, or panicking about the Zoom presentation you have to deliver – will cause the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can slow down digestion and alter other systems of your body, like increasing your heart rate and alertness so you can be prepared to confront oncoming stress. This can also explain why you might not feel too hungry during a stressful, busy work shift, but the minute you’re done and start to relax, you notice you’re starving! Being in a chronically stressed state can mean these hormones are always present in your system, which can have negative effects on your health including (but not limited to) weight gain and digestive issues, disturbed sleep, anxiety and depression.

So now the question is: how can you overcome this?

Solution: Do not go at this alone. Try the following suggestions to help get yourself back on track.

  • Seek help and guidance from people around you who understand what you are going through (as they themselves are likely living through it, too). You can do this by leaning on friends and family for communal support or reaching out to experts.
  • Video-call others during meal preparations and dining. Or do activities together using online fitness programs to keep each other accountable and motivated.
  • Bring back a little routine to your days – like planning some of your meals, making grocery lists or scheduling time for activities. This can help structure your habits and keep you on track. If you’re feeling stressed out, take deep calming breaths and bring your attention to the present moment to counteract the SNS response.

And don’t forget, Dialogue has a team of real people, just like you, who have the collective knowledge and skills to help you process your individual experience in the new situation we are all living in. Our team of health professionals* all work in collaboration to help you build better relationships with your mental and physical self, as well as with the food you eat.

Start a new chat today with one of our team members, so you can get yourself back on track and tackle your quarantine-15.

We are here for you.

* Health professionals include: mental health specialists, psychotherapists**, dietitians***, doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners
**Psychotherapy: additional fees may apply
***Dietitians are an additional service with fees


Topics: Health and Wellness