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The “Quarantine 15” – So What?

I was struck by two articles that were side-by-side in the New York Times last week (at least on the website). The first,  “Tailors Know New Yorkers’ Pandemic Secret: ‘Everybody Got Fat!’” is about the “Quarantine 15” – those extra pounds so many of us have gained during these past stay-at-home, stressful months. The next article, “The Art of the Cookie Drop,” tells the story of a bakery that delivers half-pound cookies and which consistently sells out of cookies during its 15-minute ordering window.

Well, that pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? But what’s the point? I mean, we all know that stress eating is a thing – and face it, no one stress eats celery. We’re isolated, we’re worried about the future, and we’ve had our routines disrupted. So what if we eat half-pound cookies or bags of chips?

I think it’s all about reaching a tipping point – that point where the comfort from supposed comfort foods is less than the discomfort from the physical and psychological consequences. If you do tip the scales, so to speak, just try to keep yourself out of that body-shaming space that our culture wants you to inhabit. Rebecca Pearl, a brilliant researcher in the area of weight stigma, recently wrote an article about the tens of thousands of social media posts about the Quarantine 15. These posts tend to reinforce stereotypes about people with obesity as being “lazy” and “lacking self-control.” Imagine how easy it is – perhaps even inevitable – for people to eventually internalize these cruel and misguided accusations.

Truly, we’re all just doing our best to get through this time. But here are a few strategies you may find helpful:

  • Add more structure and routine to your day.
  • Plan meals and snacks ahead of time
  • Don’t wear “forgiving” sweat pants all day every day (feel free to ignore this – I’m certainly going to)
  • Include some physical activity in your day every day
  • Get the sleep your body needs. Netflix is turning us into carb-craving zombies.
  • Wear the damn mask.



Pearl RL. Weight Stigma and the “Quarantine-15”. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020;28(7):1180-1181. doi:10.1002/oby.22850