Advocates Share Diet and Exercise Changes During the Pandemic

Creating and continuing dietary or exercise routines can be difficult for anyone. The pandemic upended many people's usual activities. Some went from working out at a gym to making the best of home workouts. Others may have fallen out of a schedule of timed meals depending on their work schedules or changes to family needs. Of course, everybody's experience during the pandemic was different.

Research has reported varying pandemic experiences among those with chronic illnesses like IBS. We recently completed an Ask the Advocate's survey where we asked our patient leaders how the pandemic affected their routines from March 2020 through spring 2021.

IBS diet and exercise routine

We asked the advocates, "How did your food choices or exercise routines change (or not) during the pandemic? Did you experiment? What happened?"

Amy Dodd Pilkington, IBS advocate"My diet has not really changed, but I have exercised less. I stayed home as much as possible before the pandemic, but I have only left home around a dozen times since the pandemic started. Being at home all the time has really limited my activity. I have IBS-M, and I expected the decreased activity to worsen IBS-C symptoms. It was quite the opposite. IBS-D is my primary issue now." – Amy P.

Shannon Grantham, IBS Advocate"Due to my highly stressful job in the COVID clinic and working 13+ hour days, exercise wasn't a possibility and we were provided food at work. Some days it was okay but others it would be all trigger foods. I just did the best I could with what I had." – Shannon G.

Karina Ioffe, IBS Advocate "During the pandemic, my food choices became more and more restricted. In the beginning, it was very hard to even find the foods I wanted at the grocery store because everything was sold out. At the same time, grocery shopping felt scary, so I avoided it as much as possible in the first couple of months. But this wasn't the only reason. Before COVID, I was used to going out and eating out. There were foods I only ate at restaurants or other people's places, never at home. These formerly safe foods suddenly started triggering my IBS because my body wasn't used to them anymore. Nowadays, my only safe options are foods I regularly eat at home. And since I don't enjoy cooking, they are pretty limited." – Karina

portrait of Mara B."I started exercising a lot more at home. This was to help balance out the fact that I wouldn’t be leaving the house a lot (other than for some walks). My food choices also haven’t really changed although lately, I’ve been trying to incorporate more oats into my diet. I’ve still had some pretty awful flare-ups in the past year." – Mara

Share your experiences

How about you? Did the pandemic change your diet or exercise routine? Share in the comments below or visit our forums.

Editorial Note: We recognize that not every person with IBS experiences the same symptoms, triggers, or difficulties related to the condition. If your symptoms have worsened, please contact your healthcare provider.

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