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COVID-19 is an infectious disease which can cause symptoms like fever, cough, general weakness, pain, difficulty breathing as well as changes to your sense of taste and smell.

Your diet, nutritional, and fluid intake are very important when you have COVID-19, but the symptoms can affect your appetite and ability to eat, making it difficult for you to meet your nutritional needs.

When you are managing this under home quarantine, you need to know a few things about your daily nutritional requirements. Here are some things you should try to do:

  1. Eat high energy foods, or a calorie-dense diet
  2. COVID-19 patients should eat a protein-rich diet
  3. Stay well hydrated during COVID-19 recovery
  4. Add immunity booster foods to your COVID-19 diet
  5. Follow these tips for managing changes in taste and smell
  6. Heed these tips for COVID-19 recovery
  7. Sample diet plan for a COVID-19 patient
  8. Doctors for Diet for COVID-19 patients

Your body needs a high-calorie diet when you have fever and breathing difficulty. The extra calories will help to boost your energy levels, which help to fight the infection. They also prevent weight loss as a result of sickness.

Here are a few suggestions on how to maintain the energy level in your body:

  • Try eating six times a day, every two or three hours.
  • Eat even if you are not hungry.
  • Eat calorie-dense foods such as potatoes, bread, pasta, rice, and cereals.  Choose whole grains to add fibre as well. 
  • Drink homemade fruit juice, milk, milkshake, or other higher-calorie beverages.
  • Double the portion of healthy fats and oils such as nuts (almonds, walnut, pistachio, pine nuts or chilgoza), seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds), different types of nut butter and avocados in your daily diet.
  • Add high-calorie snacks such as jaggery and roasted chana, shakes, dates and nut bar and laddu made with whole wheat, nuts, jaggery.

There are a lot of complaints of weakness, loss of appetite, and muscle loss in COVID-19 infection. In this situation, a protein-rich diet will optimize the body's immune system, help speed up recovery time, replace damaged body tissues, and prevent muscle loss.

  • Try to eat 75-100 grams of protein per day. Good protein sources are pulses, legumes such as black gram (urad dal), kidney beans, black-eyed peas, green gram (moong sabut), peanuts, nut butter, milk, curd/yoghurt, cheese and eggs. If you eat non-vegetarian, you can add fish and chicken to your diet.
  • Try to eat a portion of protein-rich food at each meal.

Have regular drinks throughout the day to help you stay hydrated. When our body is fighting an infection, it needs more energy and more fluids. So we need to eat and drink more than we normally would. To increase your fluid intake:

  • Each day, aim to drink 8-10 glasses of fluid: water, milk, fruit juices, infused water, non-caffeine green tea all count.
  • Try to take hot beverages such as warm water, soup, broth, non-caffeine green tea and kadha.
  • Avoid tea, coffee, and other caffeinated drinks which can increase dehydration in the body.
  • Check the colour of your urine. Dark urine is a sign of dehydration. Aim to drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale straw-coloured.

Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are important to support your immune system during illness. If you are struggling with your appetite, you may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals.

To boost your immune system your body needs vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E, zinc, selenium, omega 3, and some other antioxidants.

During isolation at home, you may not get enough sunshine for your body to produce vitamin D. Try to sit in the sunlight for 15-20 minutes daily.

There are some foods which you should have in your regular diet to boost your immunity:

  • Include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diets: take five to seven portions a day.
  • Think about the colours of the rainbow; try and include all these colours on your plate. The different colours provide different vitamins and minerals. In fruits, you can have:
  • In vegetables, take:
  • Nuts and seeds are good sources of zinc, selenium and omega 3, so add chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed, flaxseed, almond, walnut, pine nuts in your regular diet. This can be a good tea time snack for you. 
  • Spices are a good source of antioxidants, so take turmeric in the form of turmeric milk (golden milk); and ginger, tulsi and black pepper in kadha. These will be helpful for sore throat and cough during this infection.
  • Consider a multivitamin and mineral supplement if you are not able to fulfil your nutritional requirement from a daily fruit and vegetable intake.

Changes to your taste and smell are common symptoms of COVID-19. They can make eating and drinking less enjoyable. The following tips could help you eat more to regain your strength, despite the change in taste:

  • Experiment with herbs, seasoning, spices, pepper, chutneys, and pickles while cooking and eating your meal.
  • If you are struggling with the strong taste of hot foods, try cold or lukewarm foods instead.
  • If you go off a particular food, try it again regularly as your tastes may continue to change.

Diet, exercise, sleep, hygiene and the support of loved ones can help you boost your immunity and get better faster. The following are general tips to ensure these five things are in order during your recovery:

  • Eat fresh, home-cooked meals to complete your nutritional requirements. 
  • Wash your hands before and after eating.
  • Physical activity combined with good nutrition can help you get back to your normal routine faster. Even a little bit of exercise will help you recover from illness, strengthen your lungs, make breathing easier and keep you stronger. Physical activity does not have to be strenuous. Do gentle exercises such as walking around the garden or exercises in the home.
  • Good sleep for seven to eight hours will help your body build immunity; less sleep will leave you feeling tired and impair your brain activity. Lack of sleep—or when the body is not adequately rested—impairs other bodily functions and that will have a direct impact on your immunity.
  • If you are self-isolating, ask family, friends or your caregiver for help with shopping, or ordering groceries for home delivery.
  • Ask family, friends or your caregiver for support with technology to be able to connect via social media, phone or video calls.

If you are in home quarantine, it is important to maintain a schedule with proper timings for eating about six smaller meals a day. Here's a sample to get you started:

  • 7 am (wake up): Warm water 
  • 7:30 am (morning tea): Tea + six to eight almonds + two to four walnuts 
  • 9 am (breakfast): Two multigrain bread and paneer sandwiches/one bowl of vegetable daliya + one cup of low-fat milk/one boiled egg.
  • 11 am (mid-meal): One bowl of fruit salad with mixed fruit + one or two teaspoons of nuts and seeds + one teaspoon honey. 
  • 1-2 pm (lunch): Two missi roti/one bowl rice + one bowl rajma/tur dal + one bowl mixed vegetables + one bowl salad.
  • 3 pm (evening snack): Ginger, tulsi and black pepper kadha
  • 5 pm (evening snack): One bowl black chana chaat + five or six cubes of paneer/ one or two pieces of grilled chicken sandwich + one glass milk shake/one bowl (150 grams) of any fruit.
  • 7:30 pm: One bowl vegetable soup.
  • 8 pm (dinner): Two chapati + one bowl kadhi/two pieces of fish curry + one or two bowls of palak curry/any seasonal vegetables.
  • 9:30 pm: One cup turmeric milk.

Please note: if you have other comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, or any other health issue, please consult your healthcare provider for a detailed nutrition plan.

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Nutritionist
7 Years of Experience

Surbhi Singh

Surbhi Singh

Nutritionist
22 Years of Experience

Dr. Avtar Singh Kochar

Dr. Avtar Singh Kochar

Nutritionist
20 Years of Experience

Dr. priyamwada

Dr. priyamwada

Nutritionist
7 Years of Experience

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