Help, We've All Gained Weight!

By Dr. Robert Wallace

November 25, 2020 6 min read

DR. WALLACE: During the COVID-19 quarantine, I have gained some weight — about 15 pounds, to be specific! I think everyone in my family has gained weight, some more than others. I come from a large family with three siblings, so with our parents, that makes six of us. We eat a lot more often since there has been little to do outside of our home.

I also have noticed that my parents are buying a lot of food from restaurants as to-go meals, and they send my oldest brother (he's 19) out to pick it up. Of course, we all love the great restaurant food, but it's obvious we are all packing on the weight.

Yes, we do some cooking and eating at home as well, but we used to make our meals quick and light last year, as we were all busy, and dinner only lasted 20 minutes or so. Now, when we cook up a meal at home from scratch, it's a big production! All of us kids have to get a specific dish ready, and our mom is buzzing around the kitchen with multiple plates and pots and pans flying all around. It's as if every meal is a Thanksgiving dinner! On top of all of this, we don't seem to be as active. We eat these massive meals and then retire to the den to watch a movie together.

On the one hand, our family has never been closer to one another, and we've never had such fun and harmony. But on the other hand, we're getting big fast!

What can I do to lose my extra weight and help my family slim down a little also? — An Expanding Family, via email

AN EXPANDING FAMILY: During the pandemic, our lives have changed more than what we ever thought possible. Weight gain is caused by excessive calorie intake and inactivity. Try to eat fresh produce, meat and dairy, and cook using healthier recipes. Seek to find dishes that take just as much time and preparation to create but are lower in calories and therefore much healthier.

Second, it's critical that your family members increase daily physical activity. Be the leader who encourages others to take short walks during a school or work break; 15 minutes or so can start a routine. Build up your collective stamina, and seek to reach a goal of 30-minute walks at a brisk pace.

Third, eat less rich, restaurant, to-go food. Cut back to just an occasional treat of this comfort food, and seek a balance with healthy home-cooked meals. Many of the most popular restaurant dishes are high in calories, so consume those only in moderation. However, many restaurants these days have special low-calorie, healthier fare available, too. Seek to mix these types of dishes into your future restaurant orders. I think it's great that your family is supporting local restaurants, especially small ones, during this pandemic, but please do so in ways that keep your family's health in focus, too.


DR. WALLACE: I've been hanging out with a special guy for three months, but he broke up with me several weeks ago because he told me that he wanted to date another girl. I found that whole conversation quite strange since, for the entire three months we spent some time together, he insisted on saying that we weren't steadily dating and we were just hanging out with each other to pass the time. I never objected to his definition of our relationship. I just focused on our day-to-day interactions and the outings we enjoyed together.

So, it was a surprise to me when he used the phrase "breaking up" to indicate that we would not be hanging out together anymore.

Last weekend, I started hanging out with one of his friends — and guess what? This made him very upset! Last night, he called me and said if I stopped going out with his friend, he would start hanging out with me again.

I'll readily admit that I like my "ex" a lot, but I also enjoy going out with his friend, who is now a new friend to me. I'm not sure what I should do in this type of a situation, so I thought I might seek your advice on this unusual dilemma. Can you help me with some sage advice? — Just Hanging Out, via email

JUST HANGING OUT: Well, I'm not sure if my advice will prove to be sage advice in this instance, but I'll give you my honest thoughts. Continue dating his friend as long as you enjoy going out with him and as long as this friend enjoys your company. Tell your ex that you are just hanging out and that things might change at some point and that if they do, you'll consider contacting him again.

This will allow you to point out to your "ex" that he had a good thing going and didn't appreciate it at the time. It also allows you to keep the door open to him should things change in the future, since you are not saying you'll never hang out with him again.

From there, I suggest you focus solely on your existing relationship for now. If and when things change, you can consider making future decisions and adjustments as you deem prudent.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: jamesoladujoye at Pixabay

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