Superstorm Sandy Leads to Weight Gain Caused by Comfort Eating

With East Coast residents holed up in their homes during Sandy, many found comfort in food, leading to “Sandy 5” or “Sandy 15.”

With East Coast residents holed up in their homes during Sandy, many found comfort in food, leading to “Sandy 5” or “Sandy 15.”  (AP)

Jamie Sanders went to the grocery store during the aftermath of superstorm Sandy in New York City, hoping to purchase cucumbers and apples. However, her local supermarket did not have any new supplies. With the prospect of working in her Upper East Side apartment for several days ahead, she joined the hordes of East Coast residents holed up in their homes who found comfort in eating.

Now, many are struggling to fit into their jeans.

“There was some canned food left and some Oreos,” said Sanders, who also purchased chips, salsa, as well as boxed macaroni and cheese. “I do like Oreos, but these were an impulse buy. I saw they were Winter Oreos with red cream and a snowman on top and I had to try them.”

Social networking sites Facebook and Twitter were full of mini-confessions of calories consumed while people were either left in the dark and trying to eat up what was deep in their freezer before it spoiled, or making due with the packaged foods that were in the grocery store after the meat and produce were gone. Others turned to baking as a rainy day family activity.

In addition, some consumed Halloween candy purchased for trick-or-treaters, making it, what New York-based registered dietician Keri Glassman called, “the perfect storm.”

Now, East Coast residents are experiencing the aftermath of their superstorm feast.

Being coined “Sandy 5” or “Sandy 15,” depending on who you ask, it’s, according to the New York Times, similar to the sudden weight gain college students pack on while adjusting to campus life.

According to Glassman, author of the upcoming book, “The New You and Improved Diet,” stress and boredom make it hard to fight off temptation. Her advice: don’t eat it all in one sitting. “If you have that candy in the house, make it one treat a day for the next few days,” she said.

Even fitness trainer Simone de la Rue gave into a burger, French fries and a margarita for lunch, stating that it helped her “pass the time.” With her gym closed due to a power outage, she tried to make up her indulgences with a few extra workout videos streamed on her iPad.

Nancy Yates, a retired United Nations development officer from Manhattan, went shopping with neighbor Norma Fontane for comfort food at a bodega that was lit by a flashlight and candlelight. They picked up canned chicken noodle soup, crackers, chocolate bars, chips and cookies “to help the depression,” Fontane joked.

The New York Times reported that “in times of crisis, New Yorkers discovered, food fills an emotional need, not just a physical one.” It also stated many binged because they were not sure when their next meal was coming from.

Attempting to avoid junk food, Matthew Bautista, also from Manhattan, spent four days concocting gourmet meals, like spare ribs braised in red wine, butternut squash soup, and pork loin.

Next time, Glassman said, plan ahead and make things such as low-sodium, bean-based soups, frozen vegetables, peanut butter, canned tuna and salmon, as well as green tea and oatmeal.

It’s not too late to get on the bandwagon now, she added. “Every meal is a Monday morning.”

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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