New Jersey Bariatric Center
sign in

Tips to Handle Pandemic Weight Gain As We Return to In-Person

By Dana Babeu, R.D. | May 5, 2021

We’ve been living a pandemic life for more than a year now. Maybe we’ve paid less attention to choices like what we wear each day or how much we’ve been snacking. Talking to friends, family and patients, gaining the “COVID 19” has become something of a running joke until the call comes to head back into the office or take your kids to school IN PERSON. Then the realization sets in that people will see all of us, not just our head in a Zoom square box. Suddenly, the thought of being back out in the world doesn’t feel so fun. If you are facing the struggle with pandemic weight gain, here are a few health tips that may help make the transition easier.

Cultivate Awareness
It’s important to acknowledge where you are in the present moment. This might mean stepping on a scale, trying on those work pants that have made their way to the back of the closet or keeping a food journal to gauge how much you’re eating. Once you have this information, you can begin to make a plan for moving forward.

Resist Judgment and Set New Goals
Try to resist the temptation to judge yourself. It’s been a tough year and what’s done is done. Set an achievable goal or two and create an environment that will allow you to reach it. Keep those work pants front and center to help motivate you. Write out your meals and snacks for the coming week. Get moving by taking a walk, doing some yard work or joining an outdoor fitness class. Focus your energy on reaching your goals, not on the past.

RELATED: Non-Scale Victories

Food as Fuel Mindset
Thinking of food as fuel is a great way to feel in control of our choices with a positive spin. Meals and snacks are a great opportunity to fuel our bodies and help us be at our best. Knowing you’re making healthy choices for yourself and your family, especially during stressful times, is empowering and comforting. Thinking of food as fuel is a great way to feel in control of our choices with a positive spin. Make a plan for defined mealtimes including a healthy snack or two and drink lots of water. Keep a running grocery list in your phone or near the fridge and seek out recipes or meal planning ideas that are realistic for your lifestyle. 

Practice Self Care
Emotional eating has been at an all-time high for many over the past year. Brainstorming non-food ways to comfort and care for yourself in times of stress is essential as we begin to re-enter the world. Some options might be treating yourself to a favorite no-calorie drink like coffee, tea or sparkling water, going for a walk, taking a bath, buying a new outfit, getting yourself some beautiful flowers, or reading a really good book. Keep a list of your favorite non-food treats posted in the kitchen and you’ll be ready when emotions trigger a snack attack. 

Share Your Journey
This could be with the people in your household, co-workers or even a trusted healthcare provider. Chances are they can relate to what you’re going through, and studies show having a support system helps us reach our health goals better than going it alone. 

For more help with pandemic weight gain, goal setting, meal planning and healthy habits visit us at or call to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Registered Dietitians at 908-481-1270.

Dana Babeu, RD, is a registered dietitian at New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville, Hoboken, East Brunswick, Hackettstown and Sparta, New Jersey. She provides pre-operative and post-operative nutritional counseling to New Jersey Bariatric Center’s Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, LAP-BAND (gastric band) and revision patients, in addition to dietary counseling for patients in our Medical Weight Loss program.
chevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram