Reframing the Toxic “Quarantine 15”

In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, there is currently a popular “Avoid the Quarantine 15” tagline making the rounds. This has apparently become the catch phrase warning to all of us quarantined individuals to be careful of possibly gaining 15 pounds. There are tools to calculate what you are predicted to gain during quarantine as well as news and social media outlets capitalizing on this notion to adopt what I would call “a more diet-centric focus into our already over-diet-focused and fat-phobic world.”

I worry that this Quarantine 15 focus in its current usage is toxic and can backfire. It creates more fear, contributes to weight stigma, and is based on false assumptions. 

As an Eating Disorder (ED) therapist, I do have to acknowledge that I have a strong bias on this topic. Given that a good portion of my work as a therapist is focused on treating individuals with EDs, I tend to be fairly sensitive to (and easily impassioned about) information out in the world that feels triggering, distorted and inappropriately focused.  

I recognize that many of those who are posting or reporting on this catchy phrase don’t necessarily mean to be hurtful or triggering. We live in a diet culture and weight-obsessed world, and so the push to focus on certain products or intense workouts is not unexpected. However, we also know that this sort of focus can actually be harmful to those who are struggling with an ED, disordered eating, orthorexia, body image disturbances or other ED-related issues. These are serious illnesses that can affect one’s every waking hour, significantly disrupt their life and have serious long term effects. How we approach and talk about such things matters, and those who know, treat, or have recovered from an ED may be ideally situated to

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How to stock a plant-based pantry (and fridge) on a budget – Harvard Health Blog

Given the current pandemic and related economic stressors, many of us are trying to maintain healthy habits while watching our expenses. One of the areas where we can support our immune system is through our food choices. We all have to eat, and eat several times a day, and selecting foods that support our health and our planet — while also saving money — is now a priority for many.

People are going meatless for many reasons

About a quarter of the US is now vegetarian, especially people ages 25 to 34. A survey from 2017 studied US attitudes toward animal farming, and found that 54% of Americans were trying to purchase less meat, dairy, and eggs, and buying more plant-based foods. A plant-based diet has been linked with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality. Studies have also shown an improved mood with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

In additional to health reasons for eating less meat, many people are embracing a plant-based diet with fewer meats, or even starting with one meatless day per week, in order to save money. Meat is becoming expensive, and even scarce, as some supermarkets are setting limits on the number of packages of beef or poultry a person can purchase per shopping trip. Also, more people are at home, and with schools and summer camps being canceled there are more meals to make each day within a tighter food budget. Additionally, many people have reduced incomes and may be using food pantries, or may need to be very limited in their grocery shopping choices.

Focus on wholesome ingredients, even with a limited food budget

Our food choices truly do make a difference to our physical and mental health, and with a little

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