Pandemic Weight Gain: How to get back on track

The last year has seen a real split in how people’s eating behaviours have developed.

For some, the restrictions have been an opportunity to take more control of their eating and their health. A chance to develop helpful routines with a variety of online exercise classes, daily walks, cycles or runs and fuel their body in completely the way that they want to without being surrounded by social meals, church buffets or conference food! They have embraced the chance to be free of external influences and to be the healthier self that they want to be.

For others, and perhaps the majority, it has been a time of varying emotions like anger, sadness, grief, boredom and frustration leading them to seek refuge, comfort and familiarity in food with an impact on their physical and emotional well-being.

I hear many who say they are ‘the heaviest they have ever been’ or ‘I can’t fit into my pre-lockdown clothes’ or ‘can I wear my winter cover-up clothes in the summer!?’. Are the first category of people immune to these emotions? Of course not! They will have also experienced the whole variety; they have just worked through them in different ways and food wasn’t a feature of that.


You might think that lockdown hasn’t helped you at all in this area but I would say that perhaps it has given the gift of awareness and a strong place to move forward from.

If you know that you do turn to food for reasons outside nutrition, energy, replenishment and enjoyment then what a great realisation and chance to change that!

‘Oooo I do enjoy food’ I hear you say! And yes, I expect at many times you genuinely did during lockdown! And that is of course fine, anything is permissible and can be beneficial, all food can serve a healthy purpose. But what if those healthy purposes were met and then it left you with feelings of guilt, condemnation and still a problem to solve?

Without lockdown other scenarios could have come along that would have left you in a similar situation, so I would encourage you now to take stock and realise that your position now could actually be the very thing that drives you forward to freedom in this area.

What would it be like for you to not be thinking about food constantly? To not think constantly think about what you are going to eat next? To not feel disappointed every time the scales show a ½ lb gain? How about having freedom and enjoying food and not feeling guilty about your choices?

Here's the 4 step process I teach to lead people in this area:

Step One: Getting the Foundations Right

How is your connection with God? Are you open and honest about this area of your life as well as other areas? Do you expect breakthrough or believe that you can be set free in this area? Do you believe that God wants you to be healthy and balanced? Balanced is the key word here, not a size 12 and 10.5 stone! Balanced; making decisions for your body, spirit and soul health, NOT to be a certain weight.

It’s important to meet your other foundational needs too such as sleep, energising activities, fuelling your body with mainly (but not all) nutritional things, and connecting with friends and family.

Step Two: Breaking the Dieting Mentality

Do you have an internal policing system that holds you to account and makes you feel guilty for crimes that you haven’t committed? Unfortunately that’s what a lifetime of hopping on and off different diets can do. It can give you irrational, ridiculous rules that you keep breaking and feel like you are either ‘on or off the wagon’. Freedom is hard to find unless you start recognising these lies and smash them up and replace them with something a lot more sensible and rational. So what lies are you believing about food that you need to replace with truths?

Step Three: Exploring your Eating Patterns and Behaviours

What are you triggers for eating when actually deep down you don’t want to or need to? Is it as simple as walking into a certain room, having to have something to eat whilst watching television or opening a cupboard door? Or perhaps you can relate your eating purely to emotions? Or perhaps you don’t know why you do it, but any time you get near a goal or think you may have cracked it you sabotage yourself?

Digging deep and changing your default habits is important here so that gradually you put in small steps to allow your defaults to become healthier.

Step Four: Getting the Tools you need to Succeed

What do you need to help you in this journey? Do you need more knowledge? Do you need a reality check? Do you need some help with cooking from scratch? Do you need some help with your motivation and mindset? Work out what you need and go and get it!

As part of Fitfish, the Christian Wellbeing Organisation, I run the 12-week online Healthy, Whole & Free Course 3 times a year which takes people through the process to gain freedom in this area and break free from dieting for good and for God!

You can still join the May course until the end of week one which is Tuesday May 11th here: or you can email to register your interest for the next course in September.

Gaynor van der Burton, 05/05/2021
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