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Healthy Strategies to Avoid Stress Eating During the COVID-19 Outbreak

fruits and vegetables

Courtney McCuen-Wurst, PsyD, LCSW, a licensed psychologist and member of the Penn Bariatrics team, shares tips on maintaining healthy eating while you may be spending most of your time at home.

During times of stress and anxiety, it can be easy to fall back into comforting behaviors. These behaviors can sometimes include stress eating or consuming tempting foods. You may be able to ease the uncertainty and anxiety you feel that’s related COVID-19 by recognizing that this is a difficult time, and channeling your feelings into other activities.

Make a new routine

Healthy eating can be difficult when your usual routine is interrupted.

If your day is less structured, remember what meal times worked for you previously and follow that same schedule if you’re able. If your old routine is hard to fit into your new reality, make a plan that works for you.

First thing in the morning, plan the times you will eat for the day, taking the guess work out of when to eat. Consider adding your meal times to a calendar -- either online or written down -- to help you keep track. If you are working from home, choose times to start, stop, and take breaks. Select a place to eat meals and snacks, like at your kitchen table, and keep that place separate from spaces where you work or relax.

If you’re craving snacks, plan to have a snack at the same time you would have had one when not working remotely. Pick a nutritious snack and the portion size ahead of time. “Pack” a portion of the snack you have selected in a baggie, just like you would if going to work. Stock up on healthy snacks and avoid bringing tempting foods into the house, especially in large quantities. Stay out of the kitchen outside of planned meal and snack times, which will make it easier to avoid unplanned snacking. 

Lean on your support system

If you need additional support, or have any questions, we’re here to help.

Please reach out to the bariatric care team at your location:

  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania: 215-662-2085
  • Pennsylvania Hospital: 215-454-3214
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center: 215-662-9694

About this Blog

Learn about bariatric surgery and get the support you need to continue on your weight-loss journey. We offer workouts, recipes and tips from Bariatric Surgery program team members, and stories from patients like you.

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