Best Diets for Pandemic Weight Gain and Stress Eating

diets stress weight loss Apr 16, 2021

What if I told you that a majority of adults (61%) reported experiencing undesired weight changes since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic...

In fact, more than 2 in 5 respondents in a recent survey (42%) said they gained more weight than they intended.

Adults reported gaining an average of 29 pounds (with a typical gain of 15 pounds, which is the median).

In this blog post, I’m going to talk to you about how to get the weight off, reduce your stress, and begin living healthfully once again.

If you want to shed the weight you’ve gained from the stress and social isolation of last year’s lockdown and the pandemic blues, then this post is for you!

I’m going to share with you the best way to lose the unwanted weight and keeping it off for good – all while feeling SO much better about yourself!

Stay till the end and Get our FREE guide to Best Diets (as rated by U.S News & World Reports and Get our FREE best diet guides (make a pdf):

How do I know?

I have struggled with my weight for many years –but managed to lose over 100 lbs after working hard on improving my mental health and stress management routine.

During the pandemic, I slowly gained 25 lbs. after lockdown from the stress of uncertainty and change of daily habits that used to keep me trim and fit.

So, I take my health seriously, as I almost died from not doing so in the past, and I’m going to show you exactly what you need to do NOW!

  • Yes, Many of Us Are Stress-Eating and Gaining Weight in the Pandemic
    A global study confirms that during the pandemic, many of us ate more junk food, exercised less, were more anxious and got less sleep.
  • You may have been healthy, working out and practicing self-care, but the pandemic changed everything for all of us
  • Our anxiety levels went up, many of us stopped exercising and started stress eating
  • We were eating things that made us feel better, reduce our stress, and even fill the gaping hole in our soul
  • Then, the uncertainty and stress of working, living, and eating at home caused us to fall off the wagon.
  • It’s nobody’s fault – so no need to point fingers at yourself and beat yourself up, but
  • There are things we can do to drop the weight and get healthier right now.

Mental health is super complicated. And many things, from your genetics to your environment, can affect it. But what you EAT might be having a big impact on your mental health, too.

My question to you is this?

Has the stress, isolation, and uncertainty of the Covid-19 Pandemic caused you to gain unwanted weight?

Let’s get this conversation started, so please comment below – I’d really like to know what your biggest challenge is!

Before getting started, consider this!

There is no 1-size fits all “pandemic diet” solution to losing weight and keeping it off.

Losing weight involved your mind, body, and spirit – good mental health and self-care routines really matter and will help facilitate your weight loss journey. Building a workout routine and stress management program are key (I’ll give you links for you to explore these options further if you stay till the end).

Here are the things you need to know now:

Avoid complicated diets that require extensive shopping and meal prep may be too difficult or stressful to tackle right now.

Take baby steps. We’re all stressed right now, so trying to overhaul your lifestyle completely might be asking too much of yourself. Instead, start with one small step. “What’s something you can change right now?” says Kirkpatrick. “It’s too hard to make five different changes when you can just pick one to start.” For many of her patients, that means experimenting with intermittent fasting, in which you eat only during a set number of hours each day. (More on that below.)

More tips…

Eat on a schedule. Working from home means you’ve got food accessible 24/7, and your days probably have less structure than they used to. Plan when you’ll take a coffee break and eat lunch, and stick to it.

Or maybe go vegan. Many of Kirkpatrick’s patients have adopted a vegan lifestyle during the pandemic, which they hope will be better for their immune systems. Experts say a plant-based diet supports your immune system. “It’s transformed how they eat,” she says. “A lot have lost weight without that being the goal.”

Lock the liquor cabinet. 

Start the day ready to play. 

Use your commute time for exercise. 

Don’t beat yourself up

Lose it slow and feel great about the results: Remember -- progress, not perfection – 1 step and day at a time.  Aim for one-half to one pound a week -- but in terms of your overall health, keeping track of your waist measurement might be the better bet. 

KISS: Keep it simple and set realistic expectations.

Consider intermittent fasting. “Even a Mediterranean or low-carb diet takes planning, and most of my patients can’t wrap their heads around that right now,” says Kirkpatrick. Intermittent fasting limits your eating to a set window of hours each day. The idea isn’t to gorge on cookies during those hours -- you should still aim for healthy meals and snacks -- but you don’t have to count calories or nutrients. Simply by not eating early in the morning and late at night, you’ll probably find you’re eating less. Pre-pandemic, Rachel Kahan of Brooklyn, NY, was doing a 12-hour intermittent fast, largely because her commute required eating breakfast early and dinner late. In lockdown, her family ate breakfast later in the morning and had dinner earlier in the evening, which left her with a 10-hour window for eating. She’s lost 5 pounds, and her husband has lost 10.

Embrace semi-homemade. Yes, you have more time to cook. But if you just don’t have the mental energy to choose recipes and shop for specific ingredients, stock your kitchen with ready-to-use items that are easy to transform into a nutritious meal. “Now isn’t the time to become a grand chef,” says Kirkpatrick. “Learn to be a great short-order cook.” Frozen chicken breast + frozen broccoli + a pouch of pre-cooked quinoa or brown rice = dinner.

Best diets for Mental Health and Covid


  • #1in Best Diets OverallMediterranean Diet

    It's generally accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods. The Mediterranean Diet may offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. By following the Mediterranean Diet, you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease.

  • #2. Dash Diet

    The DASH Diet, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, is promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to do exactly that: stop (or prevent) hypertension, aka high blood pressure. It emphasizes the foods you've always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy), which are high in blood pressure-deflating nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fiber. DASH also discourages foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods and tropical oils, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets. Following DASH also means capping sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day, which followers will eventually lower to about 1,500 milligrams. DASH Diet is balanced and can be followed long term, which is a key reason nutrition experts rank it as U.S. News’ Best Overall Diet, tied with the Mediterranean Diet.

  • #3: The Flexitarian Diet

    Flexitarian is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian. The term was coined more than a decade ago, and in her 2009 book, "The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life," registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner says you don't have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism – you can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still chow down on a burger or steak when the urge hits. By eating more plants and less meat, it’s suggested that adherents to the diet will not only lose weight but can improve their overall health, lowering their rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and live longer as a result.

  • #4: WW (Weight Watchers) Diet

    Although still used to shed pounds, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is also focused on inspiring healthy living and improving overall well-being. That includes taking a holistic approach to help members eat healthier and move more. Its myWW program, launched in late 2019, is its most customized and flexible program yet. The program builds on WW’s SmartPoints system, which assigns every food and beverage a point value, based on its nutrition, and leverages details about food preferences and lifestyle to match each member to one of three comprehensive ways to follow the program. A backbone of the plan is support via the WW app and expert-led workshops to provide practical tools and behavior-change techniques for help along the way.

  • #5: Mayo Clinic Diet: Weight loss and a healthier lifestyle go hand in hand on the Mayo Clinic Diet. You recalibrate your eating habits, breaking bad ones and replacing them with good ones with the help of the Mayo Clinic's unique food pyramid.
  • The pyramid emphasizes fruits, veggies and whole grains. In general, these foods have low energy density, meaning you can eat more but take in fewer calories. Think of it this way: For about the same amount of calories you could have a quarter of a Snickersbar or about 2 cups of broccoli. By sticking with the Mayo Clinic Diet, you’re expected to shed 6 to 10 pounds in two weeks and continue losing 1 to 2 pounds weekly until you’ve hit your goal weight.
  • In 2013, Mayo Clinic published "The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet," which our experts did not evaluate. A new edition of this book was published in early 2019. This spin on the standard eating plan is designed for people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, and its advice is specific to lowering blood sugar and keeping levels stable.


My Personal favorite: Keto Diet (with or without intermittent fasting)

The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner's Guide to Keto › nutrition › ketogenic-diet-101Traf/mo(us): 456.70K/42.18M - Kw(us): 634/2.05M

The ketogenic dietis a very low carb, high fat dietthat shares many similarities with the Atkins and low carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.‎A Keto Diet Meal Plan · ‎Keto Diet and Alcohol · ‎A Ketogenic Diet to Lose · ‎Ketosis

I Also recommend: NOOM App…

Noom: If you thrive on smartphone apps and virtual interaction, the Noom diet plan could work for you. With Noom, it’s not just about what you eat – but whyyou eat. Noom is about building self-awareness, accountability and habits that can lead to weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.

On the Noom app, you log every meal and snack, plus your daily weight and exercise. Your virtual coach engages with you and offers encouragement through the app’s messaging feature. You also connect with your Noom support group coach and assigned group members.

Low-calorie foods are the nutritional basis of the Noom diet, which was developed with input by registered dietitians. Specifically, Noom encourages foods with “low caloric density,” meaning foods that are high in water and lower in calories by volume. Based on your individual weight-loss goal – the weight you want to reach by a certain date at your chosen pace – Noom calculates your daily calorie budget.

The Noom organization evolved from an exercise- and calorie-tracking app to today’s plan, which incorporates the psychology of behavior change psychology. The Noom team includes clinical psychologist Andreas Michaelides. Behavior change coaches, who are trained by Noom, are selected for their empathy and helpfulness, and are not dietitians or nutrition experts.

Although Noom has been called a “Millennial diet,” the age range of users is actually spread fairly evenly among those 18 to 60 and older, with people ages 40 to 59 making up the largest proportion, according to the research.



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