Have you made jokes about gaining the COVID-19, a reference to gaining weight during the lockdowns? I have to admit my normal health practices have gone to the wayside the last few months as well!

The stay-at-home advisories across the U.S. have caused many consumers to shift their priorities including health and wellness. New information from our National Eating Trends® service shows consumers are using some foods to help with boredom and to keep spirits lifted. For example, I just nibbled on a piece of dark chocolate as I wrote this, which is something I probably wouldn’t have done in the office. After all, my pantry is so close to where I work now so why not!?

Consumers are also treating themselves with sweet indulgences more than they did last year. In April of this year, nearly 4 in 10 said having snacks and treats on hand is part of their pantry strategy. Among the categories they stock with three or more items are salty snacks, ice cream, and cookies. People are also increasing consumption of these items, particularly sweets, in the evening more than any other time of the day, which reverses a decade-long trend away from evening snacking and toward more healthful options in the morning. Along with the willingness to consume treats is a decline in the number of adults avoiding sugars, the first decline of this type in nearly a decade. There are also fewer adults avoiding sodium and alcohol now, more evidence that consumers are pausing their health goals and looking to foods and beverages for stress relief.

I believe this pause will be temporary because weight loss and overall wellness concerns remain strong, suggesting consumers will go back to nutrition plans when they feel they can incorporate them back into their lives. My fitness watch can attest to that since my average days with workouts has increased in the last few weeks. How long the U.S. will deal with COVID-19 and related economic concerns, however, will determine how quickly we return to healthier habits. According to the Center for Disease Control, new infections are rising again and many states have paused or backtracked reopening plans so health will be on pause for a bit longer.

Well, I’ve come to the end of this post so time for another piece of chocolate!