Loss of appetite and reduced food intake is normal
You may find that you have difficulties with shopping, preparing food and difficulty eating your normal portion sizes.
This may be because you feel tired or weak. You may have some new symptoms associated with COVID like smell and taste changes, shortness of breath dry mouth, nausea and constipation This can make it difficult to get the right nutrition you need to help you do your day-to-day activities and could delay recovery.
Why is it important to eat well after being diagnosed with COVID?
Eating well is important as your body needs energy, protein, vitamins and minerals to help you recover. Having a good intake of protein and energy rich foods supports you with rebuilding muscles, maintaining your immune system and increasing your energy levels to allow you to do your usual activities.
Good nutrition is critical for health, especially at a time when your immune system has taken a beating and is in a weaker state than before. This is as true for those who’ve contracted the COVID-19 infection during the ongoing pandemic as for those who’re suffering from viral fever, common cold or flu during the monsoon season.
Components of a COVID-19 recovery diet
What you eat and drink now will play a huge role in boosting your immune system and that, in turn, will determine how quickly you’re able to get back on your feet. The World Health Organization (WHO), UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) have provided many dietary recommendations through the months of the pandemic. Based on all of these guidelines, a proper recovery diet for COVID-19 patients should include the following categories of nutrition.
- Calories: Your body has been drained of energy, so calorie-dense foods are what you need to get your energy levels back up. Include rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, whole grains and cereals in your diet, but avoid foods with empty calories - like all types of junk food.
- Protein: You can’t start feeling better without these building blocks of life, so eat more protein-rich foods to get 75-100g of this nutrient every day. Add as many whole grains, lentils, legumes, dairy products, soy products, nuts and seeds as you can in your diet. If you’re non-vegetarian, then have plenty of chicken and eggs as well as fish.
- Fruits and veggies: Fresh fruits and vegetables are great sources of dietary fibre, folate, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Include everything from apples and bananas to gourds and green leafy vegetables in your diet.
- Immune-boosters: Fruits, vegetables, herbs and some spices have immense immune-boosting qualities because they’re packed with phytochemicals and bioactive compounds. Add these to your diet and drink immune-boosting herbal drinks like kadha, turmeric milk, green tea, herbal tea, etc.
- Fluids: Infections can dehydrate the body, so it’s important to rehydrate when you’re recovering. Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day, and make broths, soups, and other drinks a part of your daily diet.
Things to remember about the recovery diet
Apart from adding all these essential foods and drinks to your recovery diet, you need to keep the following things in mind to make this diet more effective:
- Prioritize fresh produce like fruits, vegetables and animal products over pre-packaged ones.
- Make sure all your meals are simple and freshly cooked at home instead of relying on outside foods.
- Ensure that all hygiene practices are followed to the T while preparing the food. Wash your hands before and after handling/eating.
- Eating large portions may be difficult during the initial phases of recovery from COVID-19 infection, so take smaller but more frequent meals.
- Many COVID-19 patients experience difficulties swallowing during their recovery period, so experiment with soft, mashed or liquids to begin with.
- Any diet is ineffective without proper sleep and exercise, so get enough rest and start with smaller physical activities to get back in shape.