With Covid still prevalent and with people still spending time in isolation, it can be difficult to know what to eat when you are sick, or what kinds of meals to prepare when you are unable to leave the house.
Unfortunately you can’t prevent catching Covid (or other colds and flu) just with eating a healthy diet, but there are ways you can adjust your diet to help shorten your recovery time. This includes:
· Eat more Vitamin C – Vitamin C is essential for many bodily functions, but plays a particularly important role in your immune health. Increasing your Vitamin C intake when you are sick can help boost your immune system to help with a faster recovery. Foods that are high in Vitamin C include citrus fruits, capsicum, kiwi fruit and tomatoes.
· Eat foods that will boost your energy – it is common to feel more tired than usual when you are sick. This is because your body is using more energy to help fight the sickness. Choosing low GI carbohydrates that are digested slower so will provide a slower release of energy which can help maintain energy levels throughout the day. Low GI foods include oats, brown rice or pasta, wholegrain bread, lentils and sweet potato.
· Eat more vegetables – although veggies a great source of essential vitamins and minerals that help with overall health, these vitamins and minerals also help to unlock the energy from our food. Aim to eat at least a serve of vegetables with every meal (or a total of 5 serves throughout the day) to help boost energy levels.
· Stay hydrated – it is no secret that water is essential for our bodies to function normally but it can be difficult to drink as much water when you are feeling unwell. You can try to increase your water intake by including diluted juices, herbal teas and watery soups.
It can be tempting to order more takeaway meals when stuck at home, especially when grocery deliveries can be delayed. However, it is surprisingly easy to prepare healthy, balanced meals with foods you may already have in your pantry. For each meal (or at least for lunch and dinner) try to split the plate so one quarter is a source of protein, one quarter is a source of low GI carbohydrates and the rest is vegetables. This basic formula will help to increase your vegetable intake, but also help you stick to daily recommendations for some of the other food groups. Some tips to help with this include:
· Have backup options frozen and tinned vegetables have almost the same nutritional value as fresh produce, but will last much longer in the freezer and cupboards. This makes them good options for when you are stuck at home and don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
· Experiment with plant-based proteins legumes (chickpeas, beans etc) and lentils are a great source of protein that can also be stored in your cupboard. They are easy to add to salads, curries and stews, so are also an easy addition to meals you may already know how to cook.
· Start collecting recipes that are easy, use tinned options of foods (including legumes) but also meet the ratio of ½ veg, ¼ carbohydrate, ¼ protein. Having a collection of recipes that use items easily found in your cupboards will hopefully reduce the need for takeaway on the nights where you can’t think of anything to cook.
For a better assessment of your own diet or for more tailored advice, you can book in at our Woden clinic with our dietitian.