Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Quarantine Effect

Happy Monday to all! Whether you’re quarantined, staying home and staying safe, or working the “front-line”, I urge you to make the most of your Monday! Personally, I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year to share memories of my mom with all of you – #TGIM!

Staying fit and staying healthy, while staying home and staying safe, has become a recent focus for many who are beginning to see, what I’m calling, #TheQuarantineEffect; which is a weight-gaining side effect from the stay-at-home orders being followed nationwide – even worldwide. That’s why the hashtag, #Quarantine15, is on the rise.

The “Quarantine 15” effect began trending around mid-March, as people started “Tweeting” stories about their weight gain, during all of the “stay home, stay safe” orders; from their mindless, couch-potato-binging to anxiety and stress related munching. The weight gain was commonly compared to the “Freshman 15”; which is the average weight students usually gain during their first year at college and away from home. It’s generally due to their on-the-go-eating routines of ready-to-eat fast food and junk food products.

Over-eating is a common response to stress and anxiety! Historically, food has usually been a comfort source for most people, especially when they experience fear and worry. Besides hoarding toilet paper and cleaning products, many Americans have been stock piling snacks and junk food to enjoy while stuck at home. However, that allotment, which would ordinarily last a household a month, is now disappearing within a week or two!

There are so many articles and videos to be found on the internet about healthy eating and cooking, wise food choices and home exercise routines, from which we can derive all kinds of inspiration. While our lives have taken a sudden detour and changed our sense of normalcy, we must all remember that it’s only temporary. Some of us may see these self-quarantine orders go on for months, or even into next year, but it’s still only temporary.

While looking for inspiration for myself, recently, I found “How to not Gain Weight During the Coronavirus Lockdown”, written by Doree Lewak (; March 17, 2020), which gives some great advice on how to “stop the Open Mouth, Insert Food stress-snacking cycle”! I wish I had read it a month and 10 pounds ago. However, as the old adage goes, “better late than never!”

‘Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Half effort does not produce half results. It produces no results! Work, continuous work and hard work, is the only way to accomplish results that last.’ – Hamilton Holt


Mom and I have, both, struggled with “yo-yo weight” for most of our lives. One diet after another left us wondering why they seemed to work for other people, but not for us! Unfortunately, our mindsets (as with so many others) were to only diet until we got to our desired goals. There was never really any long-term plan for after that, other than to buy new clothes – or get out the “old size” clothes from previous diets, of which we never entirely disposed.

Once at our goal, we’d slowly forget about the discipline that got us there and start allowing ourselves to slack a little bit. One food “reward” here, another there and before we knew it, we’d fall back into our old habits; regaining what we had lost and then some, as we further sabotaged ourselves with our own excuses for failure.

Nevertheless, we did find a diet that helped us – when we worked it – Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins, M.D. (Bantam Books; Oct. 1981). We discovered, from Dr. Atkins’ book, that we have a carbohydrate intolerance. Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution is not a quick “weigh-fix” solution. It’s actually a low-carb lifestyle commitment. Thus, it only works if you work it, and only for as long as you work it! Truth be told, though, neither of us made the lifetime commitment to it previously.

However, about 13 months ago, on the first day of Spring 2019, I embraced the low-carb lifestyle with commitment; eventually, limiting my carb-intake to 25 grams a day, max. My goal was to lose 50 pounds AND maintain it! Being hypoglycemic, borderline diabetic and 55 pounds overweight, at the time, I felt 20 years older than I should have felt. That’s why I finally decided to make the lifestyle change commitment, much like I did when I quit smoking cigarettes almost 14 years ago.

I realized that I was only cheating myself whenever I made bad choices on what I ate and/or how much I ate for meals and snacks. After all, I was the one who was freely buying, preparing and consuming the food. There was no one to blame but myself. So, I came to terms with the release of my carb-addiction, in much the same way as I released tobacco from my lifestyle – based on the book, The Easy Way To Stop Smoking, by Allen Carr (Sterling Publishing Company, NY, NY; Sept. 2004).

I had to mentally accept that this was going to be a permanent change for me – a lifestyle – not just until I reached my weight loss goal. I did reach my weight-loss goal and I know, if I ever go back to my old lifestyle, I will also go back to my old weight. So, I try to continue to make wise choices in what I consume. However, with all the fall-out from the pandemic, stress is up, and I stopped watching HOW MUCH I ate. While I was still making low-carb choices, every little bit added up!  “Everything in moderation” is the best rule by which to live, but it’s easier said than done these days.

I made it through the holidays and winter without the weight gain I would usually procure. But, recently, with the stress and anxiety over the Covid-19 pandemic, I stopped counting my carbs and gained back 10 pounds, thus far, in the past month. The wildfire-like spread of this virus, around the world, and the resulting quarantines, health threats, business closures, job losses, and so much more is a lot for anybody to handle.

My mom was the first to develop homemade, make-alike versions of fast food and junk food products. The great thing about Mom’s recipes, at least with most of them, is that they can be tailored to many different diet restrictions. I’ve been putting my own low-carb adjustments on Mom’s (and others’) recipes for the past year, with some success; sharing a few of them within my blog posts.

‘You’ll be amazed at the number of recipes you can duplicate in your own kitchen – and those you can, at least, come close to imitating – with far more success than the advertising people give us credit!’ – Gloria Pitzer

Treats like Awrey’s and Hostess’ famous cookies and cakes, to name a couple, were among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes collection, in the 1970s, which she printed on index cards and sold through the mail for 25-cents each. Mom also printed her growing and evolving make-alike-recipe collections in her hundreds of newsletters and over 40 subsequent books. She finally had to retire, due to health reasons, after more than 40 years of being the Recipe DetectiveTM.


As seen in…

The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 1-2)


What is the truth about junk food? The food experts have been referring to many snack foods and fast foods as ‘junk’ in an attempt to disqualify their value when compared to foods containing high amounts of protein and vitamins.

No one has confirmed a definition of the expression ‘junk food’, yet the public has been conditioned to accept any snack food, sweets, candies, confections, baked goods and many beverages as ‘junk food’ when, in reality, these are not without nutritional value.

All by itself, a raw carrot could hardly support the human system substantially; neither could a cup of yogurt. Yet, a candy bar or a small piece of cake or a hamburger on a bun is considered, by some of the food industry’s most prestigious experts, as having little or no food value in our daily diets.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

The junk food paradox has caused school systems and other public institutions to ban the sale of any foods we would consider snack items, making it illegal, in fact, in the state of Michigan and some others, if such items were sold to children through vending machines on the premises.

This is infuriating to the good cooks and… food chemists among us, who know that JUNK FOOD is actually any food that is poorly prepared. ALL food has nutritional value. Some just seem to have more than others. But, in the final analysis, it is purely personal taste that will determine the popularity of one food over another.

The ‘fast food’ industry has been the most successful of any phase in the business. Their success depending largely on the fact that their recipes are all closely guarded secrets! I say, ‘baloney!’

As a very believing public, we have been spoon-fed a good deal of shrewd publicity by some very skilled… advertising people, who count on our susceptibility to commercial advertising campaigns to buy their products. Whether we’re buying a hamburger in one of McDonald’s restaurants… or a ‘Twinkie’ off of the grocer’s shelf, we still believe that these products can’t be equaled by any other company in the industry, nor by the average cook in a standard, home kitchen… AND this is wrong!


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, January 2018; p. 283)

If your choices, now, include things you eat without really enjoying them, you can begin to exercise, instead of your “will” power, your “won’t” power – and refuse to keep on eating what is not good for you and what you don’t really need, replacing it with something you do enjoy and that will benefit you in nourishment, either emotionally or physically.

The WON’T power exercise for me meant no bread, no potatoes, no pastries, no gravy, no grains or other starches. It worked beautifully. For you, it might not be satisfactory. So, you can choose another course of action. I merely wish to share my experience with you because it worked for me…

What works for one person, may not work for another; but sharing the secrets of a weight loss diet that works, is too good to ignore. Even if you, personally, are not interested in losing 10 pounds, you probably know someone who is! The diet industry pulls in millions and millions of dollars every year, developing new gimmicks, pills, plans, menus, clubs and published materials about losing weight. I have tried them all in my adult life – and never with success! So, I finally developed my own diet… [Based, largely, on the low-carb diet developed by Dr. Atkins.]

… It’s not really a diet, but a new pattern of eating that can, if I wish, serve me all my life. The best way to learn any new pattern of behavior – whether it is eating or dancing or jogging or working – is to break it down into small manageable parts and work through them step-by-step! This is not a diet to be used, discarded and taken up again. It is a way of life at the table. It is a new attitude towards food…


In honor of today being National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day, here is a recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake that Mom made for years; as found on page 97 of her self-published book (no longer in print), The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990, 11th Printing).

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…


REMINDER: suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…16 down, 36 to go!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.