Don’t stress over the ‘Quarantine 15′, says Rutgers body image expert
Families stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic these past two months have been looking for things to do together. Cooking, baking and eating top the list.
Social media feeds are filled with memes, trending hashtags and posts that make it appear people are obsessed with packing on the quarantine pounds.
But Rutgers University-Camden psychology professor Charlotte Markey said the obsession with how we look should not be more important than our health. For most people, this quarantine weight gain is not going to be threatening to our health, she said.
Stress is a trigger for eating and most people are feeling extra stressed right now, Markey said. One way to address this, is to take advantage of the extra time in order to cook more nutritious meals at home instead of grabbing fast food.
"Controlling what we eat can make us feel like we are generally more in control of our lives," Markey said. "However, it's an illusion. Our bodies have nutritional needs that can't be controlled or ignored."
She said it's not an option not to eat so we really need to be kind to ourselves during this time.
She said it's also important to think about our psychological well-being. Many people feel fragile right now, which is not inappropriate. So treating ourselves to something that tastes good to us is OK and we shouldn't feel guilty. Many people are spending more time and attention finding groceries and thinking about food but they need to be careful not to make a link between these eating choices and groceries with how we look or self consciousness.
Markey, author of "The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless," said parents need to be careful they are not modeling an obsession with food for their children. Markey said children also need to think about their well-being and think about food as a form of self-care. Young people need food to be able to grow up, to do well in school and to do well in sports.
Markey said it's great that families are looking for things to do together as a unit. Cooking and baking in the kitchen is an ideal activity in which children can learn life skills.