VANCOUVER -- The pandemic has us cooking more at home, ordering more takeout, and maybe even snacking more throughout the day since our fridges are close by while we work from home. But there are consequences – and if you’ve gained weight or are eating worse, you need to get back on track.

We’ve had major changes to our lifestyles, our routines, and our habits because of the pandemic. A recent Consumer Reports survey found that 80 per cent of Americans have made at least one change in what they eat, or the way they source or prepare it. And those changes can impact your health.

“Eating well is especially vital right now because obesity, heart disease and diabetes increase the risk of COVID-19 complications,” Rachel Rabkin-Peachman with Consumer Reports says. “So this is a good time to evaluate your diet and see which habits you want to keep and which you want to change.”

Did you put on the so-called COVID 19? Maybe it wasn’t 19 pounds, but you’re not alone. Thirty-nine per cent of the people Consumer Reports surveyed said they’d gained weight since the beginning of the pandemic.

“When people have less structure in their day and more access to the kitchen, it can lead to more snacking and nibbling, and weight gain,” Rabkin-Peachman says. “Make it easy for yourself to grab healthy foods by planning out your meals and snacks in advance.”

Early on in the pandemic, supermarket shortages, hikes in some food prices and stay-at-home orders led many people to find alternatives to going to the grocery store. Here in Canada, we saw a huge rise in the use of grocery delivery and pick up services, and in the popularity of takeout delivery options.

“For many people, this also sparked the question – where does my food come from?” says Rabkin-Peachman. “Consumers started to search out to local farm stands, community sponsored agriculture programs, and many even started their own gardens.”

A recent study from Dalhousie’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab found about 17 per cent of people started growing some kind of food at home during the pandemic. And some research suggests that gardening can increase mental well-being – something we all might need a little more of right now.

With files from Consumer Reports