The fastest way to know if a quarantine diet affects your health is to step on a scale. A June 2020 poll of 2,000 Americans, commissioned by Nutrisystem, found that 76% of respondents had gained as much as 16 pounds since mid-March.
“For an otherwise healthy person, gaining 5 to 10 pounds is frustrating but not dangerous. However, for someone who struggles with chronic health, such as high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes, that same 5 or 10 pounds may represent a potentially serious change in health status that can land them in the hospital,” Franklin says.
In addition to weight gain, signs that your quarantine diet is affecting your health include:
“In a comfort food diet,” Franklin says, “we often eat late at night because it helps us relax. But that can increase stomach acid, and when we lie down at night, the stomach acid can reflux,” Franklin points out. You may also experience heartburn if you’ve gained weight that’s putting pressure on your stomach.
If you aren’t sleeping well, it could be due to heartburn or weight gain that’s enlarged your neck and triggered sleep apnea (pauses in breathing during sleep).
Starchy, sugary, processed foods can lead to changes in bowel habits. So can a diet that’s low in fibre.
Increased blood pressure
“An increase in blood pressure can be an indicator of a thousand things; among them is eating too much salt or gaining weight,” Franklin says. She advises calling your doctor if you detect a 10 point increase in either the top or bottom number of your blood pressure measurement or if your previously controlled blood pressure rises above 140/90.
You may be feeling sluggish if you’re not giving your body the right nutrients or if you’re experiencing sugar highs that lead to lows in between meals.
Changing the Menu
Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been eating a quarantine diet for months. “It is not unusual or uncommon to struggle with food right now,” says Alicia Romano, a clinical registered dietitian at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center. “I encourage all to be patient with themselves through this time.”
Romano recommends a gradual shift toward a healthier eating pattern rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals but low in added sugar and highly processed foods.
A Mediterranean-style diet fits the bill, featuring lots of:
- Fruits, such as strawberries or blueberries.
- Vegetables, such as dark, leafy greens, carrots, peppers or tomatoes.
- Whole grains, such as quinoa or whole wheat.
- Nuts and seeds, such as almonds or sunflower seeds.
- Legumes, such as black or kidney beans.
- Lean proteins, such as fish or poultry.
Source: | U.S News