Updated: Mar 30
By: William Sanders RD, LD, ACSM-CPT
COVID-19 has shifted our lives in many unpredicted ways. Interestingly, our eating and nutritional habits have changed as well (and not necessarily for the best). Increased isolation and reduced social time may be particularly detrimental for overall health, and especially those who are vulnerable (those with eating disorders and other mental illnesses) (Esobi, Lasode, & Barriguete, 2020).
Globally, food insecurity and malnutrition have increased (Bakaloudi, et al. 2021). Those above 60 years of age have lost weight and those below that age have gained weight collectively (Bakaloudi, et al. 2021). The consumption of sweets, packaged, fast foods, and alcohol has increased (Christofaro, et al. 2021 and Bakaloudi, et al. 2021).; while consumption of fruits and vegetables has decreased (Esobi, Lasode, & Barriguete, 2020). Additionally, viral infection can result in alterations in taste and smell, which may impact food choices and ultimately quality of life (Da Silva, et al. 2021).
What could be done differently?
Well, according to research: those who engage in regular physical activity during the pandemic tend make healthier food choices (Christofaro, et al. 2021). Our increased isolation time could be allocated towards healthier behaviors. Practices such as “working from home” and virtual communication have increased in utilization. This means people can save time they may have spent traveling to work or to their meetings. This extra time could potentially be allocated to healthy behaviors and new hobbies (cooking, meditation, exercise, etc..). So get out there and take advantage of your extra free time!
Bakaloudi, D. R., Barazzoni, R., Bischoff, S. C., Breda, J., Wickramasinghe, K., & Chourdakis, M. (2021). Impact of the first COVID-19 lockdown on body weight: A combined systematic review and a meta-analysis. Clinical Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2021.04.015
Bakaloudi, D. R., Jeyakumar, D. T., Jayawardena, R., & Chourdakis, M. (2021). The impact of covid-19 lockdown on snacking habits, fast-food and alcohol consumption: A systematic review of the evidence. Clinical Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2021.04.020
Christofaro, D. G., Werneck, A. O., Tebar, W. R., Lofrano-Prado, M. C., Botero, J. P., Cucato, G. G., Malik, N., Correia, M. A., Ritti-Dias, R. M., & Prado, W. L. (2021). Physical activity is associated with improved eating habits during the covid-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.664568
Da Silva, M. G., do Monte Silva, M. C., Barbosa, D. A., Gomes, A. L., Galindo, L. C., da Silva Aragão, R., & Ferraz-Pereira, K. N. (2021). Onset and duration of symptoms of loss of smell/taste in patients with COVID-19: A systematic review. American Journal of Otolaryngology, 42(2), 102889. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjoto.2020.102889
Esobi, I. C., Lasode, M. K., & Barriguete, M. O. F. (2020). The impact of covid-19 on Healthy Eating Habits. Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Health, 1(1), 1–2. https://doi.org/10.47755/jcnh.1000105