Debunking the "Quarantine-15"

Who’s ready to get controversial? During this soon-to-be historically significant quarantine, every person is finding their unique way to spend their time. Some are picking up new hobbies, going for walks, or spending quality time with their families, just to name a few. The key, however, is that they are deciding what is best for them and choosing activities that bring them joy during the day. These unprecedented times can evoke many negative feelings, sometimes overwhelming, and especially heightened for those who are high risk and/or are suffering from mental illness. The last thing anyone needs is any sort of added pressure surrounding what to do or what not do with their day. Specifically, the one sentiment I have noticed all over social media that rubs me the wrong way is the talk of the “quarantine-15.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love the uplifting community and positivity behind inspiring people to move their bodies in a way that serves them. My issue lies with the idea that people should be afraid to gain weight, especially during quarantine. With many states operating under a “stay at home” order, most people are remaining inside for most of their days. This means that, generally, your activity levels are going to be lower than what they are normally. Those short walks to class in the morning that you didn’t think much of were just one of the many ways that your everyday life on campus increased your movement. However, your body has a genetically and environmentally established set point range for your weight; within this range, your weight will naturally fluctuate in response to your daily habits. Your weight also fluctuates from the time when you wake up to when you go to sleep. According to, “daily weight fluctuation is normal. The average adult’s weight fluctuates up to 5 or 6 pounds per day. It all comes down to what and when you eat, drink, exercise, and even sleep.” Once quarantine is over and our lives slowly go back to “normal,” your activity levels will likely increase and your body will readjust to the new conditions, which could result in a fluctuation of your weight. This time of increased rest can be used in a multitude of ways, and I encourage you to follow what feels best for you and your body.

To go even further, it bewilders me how some social media influencers are taking this time to “joke” about overeating and unhealthy food choices while at home. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that they understand how these comments can be triggering for those with a history of eating disorders, disordered eating, or poor body image in general. Yes, you are not necessarily moving as much as you’re used to. But that doesn’t mean your body doesn’t still need a sufficient amount of food to continue functioning. Food is fuel; both your body and brain require food. As you sit at your desk, working through lecture after lecture and preparing for your final exams, your brain is using energy. So, although it may not feel as though you are doing much, the energy acquired through food is benefiting your body on a level you may not have thought of initially. As tough as it can be to ignore these messages portrayed all over your feed, please do what you can to listen to your body and treat it with love and respect.

No one can tell you what your body needs, even if their “what I eat in a day” video seems healthy. Eat what you enjoy, move your body as you please, and give yourself some love. At the root of it all, my heart goes out to everyone and anyone suffering from mental health issues at this time, and I hope you can find peace in this time of uncertainty. We are all in this together, so let’s provide support and positivity, not unnecessary pressure. Quarantine or not, judging someone’s body or weight is just wrong. Friendly reminder: you do not have to be thinner to be beautiful.