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Pandemic Disrupts Eating — Body Positivity is Key

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SEATTLE — COVID-19 affected nearly every facet of people’s lives, including eating.

American Psychological Association research found more than 60% of adults have reported weight problems during the pandemic. Changes, such as school moving online and work going remote, have upended people’s daily routines.

Dr. Yolanda Evans, clinical director of the division of adolescent medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said people have to be kind to themselves, and they shouldn’t use this time to measure themselves against others, especially depictions in the media.

“Take the scale out of the house, for example,” Evans suggested. “Don’t even have a scale, don’t get on and step on there because there is a lot of shame, guilt, anxiety that goes along with weighing ourselves, especially if we’re doing it on a regular basis, like getting on there every day or even once a week.”

Evans pointed out being at home and the stress from the pandemic has led some people to eat more and exercise less, but she’s also seen teenagers at her clinic who are exercising too much to relieve stress and not eating enough.

Dr. Donna O’Shea with UnitedHealthcare said COVID-19 disrupted people’s eating routines in many ways.

“We see both ends of the spectrum,” O’Shea concurred. “People who had excess snacking, but we also see that in others the same kind of stress caused them to not eat and to really put their health at risk.”

She advised it is important to re-establish routines that include the basics: good nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient sleep. UnitedHealthcare offers a free online motivational tool at UHCStepUp.com. There, people can sign a pledge to make health a priority this summer. It is part of an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for most pledges received for a health campaign in one month, ending on July 15.

Dr. Evans recommended people seek help if they are struggling.

“See your primary care provider, work with a therapist and a dietician or nutritionist,” Evans urged. “Because it really does take a supportive team to help reshape our patterns, our behaviors and our way of thinking.”

Photo Credit: Finding ways to walk 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day is among the tips medical experts suggest for staying healthy. (Aleksei Potov/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff
Eric Tegethoff
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Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

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