Americans Gained 12.5 Pounds on Average During the Pandemic—Here's Why That's OK, According to an R.D.
2020 has been a roller coaster, and food has been along for the ride. From stocking up and shortages to takeout and trying all the bread recipes on Instagram, the way we eat during a pandemic is a lot different from P.C. (pre-coronavirus) times.
So it's not too surprising to learn that during this era—amidst gym closings, stress-eating and potentially less-fresh produce—some Americans have gained a little weight.
According to just-released data from WW's COVID-19 Wellness Survey of 1,004 American adults, 36% of us have gained weight since the shutdown began. Comparatively, 13% of those polled have lost weight and 51% have noticed no change on the scale. Of those who gained, the average increase since March was 12.5 pounds (10.7 for women and 15.1 for men).
Interestingly, the Wifi scale company Withings crunched the numbers tallied on the scales of 100,000 anonymous waist-watchers who use their scales and found that the average American has gained just 0.21 pounds during quarantine.
Regardless of whether—or how much—you've gained during the pandemic, EatingWell Senior Digital Editor and registered dietitian Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D., says it shouldn't be something you're losing sleep over at the moment. (P.S.- Here's why another one of our R.D. editors thinks you should stop fussing about weight gain during the pandemic.)
"Life during the pandemic is stressful. When we're stressed, we crave comfort. Food does a really good job of providing that comfort, both emotionally (in the form of Grandma's famous casserole) and physically (in the form of feel-good hormones), so a lot of people are turning to their favorite foods—myself included—as a form of self-care," Seaver says.
Related: Try Our 30-Day Self-Care Challenge
To summarize, you should not stress out about changes on the scale right now because it's okay to turn to reasonable sources of comfort (such as that extra sprinkle of cheese or scoop of ice cream) when you're feeling frazzled.
"Acknowledge that life is really crazy right now and be gentle with yourself. Remember that when you're stressed, your body requires more calories to cope, so as that stress dissipates, chances are you'll see your weight trend back down to your 'normal' anyway," Seaver adds.
Seeking some realistic ways to jump-start that weight loss without detoxing or going on a deprivation diet? One of the simplest and best things you can do, according to Seaver, is eat more fiber.
"Or consider meeting with a registered dietitian virtually to come up with a personalized plan for you," she says.