‘Quarantine 15’: Why it’s easier to gain weight right now

Carilion Clinic weight management expert shares tips to stay healthy

ROANOKE, Va. – You’ve heard of the “Freshman 15”. Now, you might be seeing talk on social media about the “Quarantine 15” or even “Quarantine 19.”

Just ask a mom of three -- the fridge is a newfound friend during this time at home.

“All three are home with us and they are hungry and they want snacks all the time,” said Holly Carpenter, Roanoke mom of three. “And I’m trying to limit their snacks because mainly if I know if I limit their snacks, then I’m going to limit my snacks."

But moms aren’t the only ones. Memes floating around on social media suggest temptations to indulge are widespread during the stay-at-home order.

"You know, 15 pounds within a few weeks would be a pretty substantial weight gain,” said Dr. Lauren Self, Medical Director of the Weight Management Clinic at Carilion Clinic. “However if you’ve truly lost all the healthy habits that you’ve had or engaged in previously, you absolutely can gain weight in a short amount of time.”

Dr. Self says the two main things that trigger people to eat more are boredom and stress. Those both happen to be commonplace for a lot of people right now, even for a fitness professional like Kristen Reimer, the owner of BOCO Fit Rage.

“I’ve been working out, but I have still gained like 5 pounds and a lot of it is just due to stress of the unknown,” said Reimer, “Because when our stress levels increase our cortisol levels increase and that is a hormone that can help you hang onto fat, especially in your belly.”

Which is why awareness and planning ahead can make a world of difference.

“Engage in the healthy habits that you know work well for you,” said Dr. Self. “And avoid the pitfalls that you’ve seen previously in your life, so if you know that you’re a stress eater, be sure that you hide the snacks, try to get out and manage your stress in other avenues.”

Dr. Self also recommends writing out a list of different strategies to engage in to avoid negative behaviors.