A dietician’s advice to prevent (the next epidemic) – Corona 15.

Has anyone heard of the new term The Corona 15?

According to the Urban Dictionary it has been defined as

“Weight gain as a result of being forced to shelter at home during a pandemic, specifically due to Coronavirus, or COVID-19, but can be applied to other pandemics. Total gain does not have to be limited to 15 pounds.”

Friend: I can no longer fit into my jeans

Me: Oh man, you got the Corona 15 bad. You need to hit the gym. Too bad they are all closed!

by Juggahoe March 24, 2020

(I kid you not)

The truth is that this new “entry” is based on the term “Freshman 15” usually used to describe the weight gain of 15 pounds (roughly 5-7 kg) by college students during their first year of college. 

The reasons for this weight gain by students are generally put down to a new lifestyle, different food availability, drinking alcohol, studying habits, lack of exercise, no home cooked meals, but if I could sum it up in one word it would be CHANGE. 

When we change our environments many times the change impacts not only our emotional states but also our physical state as well. 

The change that we as individuals, families, communities and frankly the world is going through right now is huge. 

We’ve literally had the rug pulled out from under us and many of us have lost our sense of security, our jobs, daily schedules, our freedom to go out and exercise and our routine. 

Change usually increases stress in some way or another and people deal with stress in many different ways. One of those ways which is extremely common is to eat. Eating in excess to our body’s needs causes weight gain. 

Food is generally a comfort to many people across the globe and often used as a way of expressing love, care, worry, and so much more-  be it grandma’s chicken soup, vanilla ice cream, chocolate, chips, pasta alfredo, cookies and milk, a glass of wine or whatever makes you feel better or calmer, loved or gives you a sense of security… 

Another issue that we are dealing with is that being at home constantly we are around food and in closer proximity to our kitchen and fridge which can lead to constant grazing- which probably doesn’t happen when we are at work or busy.

So how do we try and make sure that we stay safe from covid 19 and covid 15 😉

Here are a few Health Conscious suggestions

1- Healthy balanced meals. Making sure that the meals you eat fill you up so you are not hungry in between meals. Try to break up your plate. Carbohydrates should take up 1/4-1/3 of your plate, Proteins about a ⅓ of your plate, Vegetables and fruit about  ⅓-½  of your plate, and 1 Tbsp of healthy fats as well. At the same time if you are having meals that are leaving you feeling hungry and snacking soon after you may want to add some more carbs, protein or a healthy fats to make sure you are eating a filling meal and don’t start snacking after.

2- Set a meal timetable – knowing what times your meals are going to be at gives us a sense of food security and prevents grazing. 

3- Snack on fruit and vegetables -they are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and low in excess energy. Fruits and vegetables are great and healthy fillers! Don’t underestimate the power of them! If you are craving something unhealthy try a fruit or vegetable first and if you really want that unhealthy snack, have it after.

4- Exercise even from the comfort of your own bedroom – keep your body moving! It is so important for mental and physical health! If you are stuck for ideas, You-tube has many exercise videos, pick up a jump rope, make use of your 100-500m radius by walking but it’s super important to move your body.

5- Take a break from eating in-between meals so your body can digest the food that you have eaten properly. 

6- Cook and freeze – home cooked meals are generally more healthy than take out meals – if you are making food – it is always a good idea to make more so you can have extra portion’s in the freezer for the days you don’t feel like cooking. A soup is so much more filling and nutritious than a bar of chocolate when you get hungry…

7- That bar of chocolate – if you really want that bar of chocolate or that piece of cake, build it into your meal timetable, for a snack or for dessert – plan it, eat it and enjoy it! That way you will feel that you are in control and hopefully can stop after one piece – enough to feel full and in control and not out of control

8- Check in with yourself  (aka-mindfulness)- ask yourself if you are full or hungry  and why you want to eat.

My Favorite tool by far and one that I use constantly is the HUNGER SATIETY SCALE

This scale helps us connect with our body’s hunger and fullness signals. The more you use it, the better you will get at it.

It is a simple scale from 1-10. I suggest rating where you are BEFORE and AFTER eating meals and then seeing how long that meal helped you stay full. This will help you gauge if you are full, hungry, want to eat, or need to eat. This is an infographic to explain how to use the hunger scale.

I recommend staying between a 3-7 – eating when hungry (3), and stopping to eat when satisfied (7). This will help you gauge how full or hungry you really are.

When you want to eat but are not sure what you want or how much you want it can also help  to ask yourself “where am I now?” If you are a 5 – you are probably satisfied and maybe you are looking for something small or can wait a bit… If you are a 2 then that’s your body telling you to eat!

It seems so complicated, yet the more you use this tool the easier it will get for you to be able to connect and listen to the signals your body is sending you. No matter what situation you are in, and what changes may come, you will be able to intuitively listen to your body and give it what it needs without the excess stress of eating too much or gaining unnecessary weight.

Good Luck and stay safe and healthy.

About the Author
Tova Kramer was born in South Africa, grew up in Australia and is a Proud Israeli. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and 5 children. She is is a registered clinical dietician and has a private practice specializing in eating disorders and helping clients find a healthy balance to nourish, respect and trust their bodies.
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