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Ultimate Covid Diet Plan and How to make it Exciting

For a healthy Covid diet plan, sufficient nutrition and water intake are essential. With a balanced diet, one would be more beneficial and have a more robust immune system. The stronger the immune system, the less chance of illness and infectious disease. Therefore, your daily food consumption should include dietary fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, fresh vegetables, fruits, and plenty of water. At the same time, we should stay away from trans-fat, high sugar, and salt to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc.

Eat fresh foods daily – covid diet plan

Covid diet plan
Covid diet plan

One should regularly eat fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. Your whole-grain source could be unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice, etc., and foods from animal sources such as meat, fish, eggs, and milk. Instead of salty snacks, choose fresh fruits.

For snacks, choose raw vegetables and fresh fruit rather than foods high in sugar, fat, or salt. Remember overcooking leads to loss of essential vitamins.

Drink plenty of water every day – covid diet plan

Covid diet plan
Covid diet plan

Stay hydrated. Water is essential for good health. Water regulates our body temperature. It carries nutrients and compounds in blood. Water also gets rid of waste and provides lubricants for joints. It is essential to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. To enhance the taste of water, you can add slices of citrus fruits, cucumber, or herbs like mint, rosemary, etc.

Avoid too much tea, coffee, packaged fruit juices, and fizzy drinks as they contain tannin, caffeine, or highly concentrated sugar. These drinks also cause dehydration and can disturb can negatively impact your sleeping patterns.

Eat moderate amounts of fat and oil – covid diet plan.

Unsaturated fat such as the fat found in fish, olive oil, and sunflower oil is better than saturated fats like butter, coconut oil, cream, cheese, lard, etc. Chicken meat is low in fat compared to red meat. Many fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are suitable for heart health. In case dairy products choose low-fat versions of milk and milk products,

Avoid foods containing trans fats, like processed food, fast food, fried food, frozen pizza, pies, cookies, etc. The WHO recommends that fat consumption should be no less than 30% of total energy intake. Out of this, saturated fat consumption should not be more than 10%.

Also, you can modify your cooking method, like instead of frying, use steaming or grilling. Instead of using saturated fat or oil, you can use unsaturated oil such as olive oil or sunflower oil during cooking.

Consume enough fibre

Fibre is essential for our digestive system. It provides us with a feeling of fullness, and it prevents overeating. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and pulses comprise a massive amount of fibre.

Eat less salt – covid diet plan.

During cooking, try to limit the amount of salt. Always use iodized salt. Avoid processed food high in salt. During covid lockdown and worldwide situations these days, there are situations where fewer fresh foods, and we need to rely on frozen, canned, and processed foods. These kinds of processed or canned foods might contain high levels of salts. According to the WHO, we should not consume more than 5 gm of salt daily. Therefore, our priority should be the foods with less or no added salt. We should thoroughly use canned foods in brine to reduce the amount of salt.

Limit your sugar intake – covid diet plan

Also, control the intake of soft drinks, packaged fruit juices, juice concentrates, and artificially flavoured drinks. Instead of cake, cookies, or crisps, try fresh fruit as a snack. Give priority to fresh fruit when you got a craving for something sweet. Dried fruits are also a good option. 

Watch out for syrupy concentrated juices or drinks. Also, be careful about low-fat options as they have added sugar to enhance the taste. For tea or such beverages, you can add honey and sweeten it.

Avoid eating out

Eat at home reduces your chance of being exposed to COVID-19 or it’s variants such as Omicron and allows you to eat healthy, home-cooked food. It is recommended to maintain 6 feet distance between two people, which is not always possible in a restaurant setting. As many people come and go, no one can tell if hands are being washed regularly enough and whether surfaces are being cleaned and disinfected every time.

Enjoy family meals

Covid diet plan
Covid diet plan

Covid 19 Isolation and quarantine also allow you to spend more time with your family. You can share meals and spend quality time together. These boost your mental health at a time when it is essential. You can strengthen your family bonding and enjoy a good time with your partner and kids.

Try to use fresh ingredients – covid diet plan.

Always use up products that have a shorter shelf life in the beginning. Food items like fresh fruits and fresh vegetables have a shorter shelf life. Try to use them before going for canned vegetables and fruits, which have a longer shelf life. Do not waste food. Keep the leftover in the freezer to use later.   

Which foods should we buy for our Covid 19 diet plan?

It is essential to find and decide which food items we should buy. It is also necessary to understand their perishability and shelf life. Otherwise, we would waste a lot of food that could have been important for someone.

Only take what you need.

We have seen panic buying throughout the world during the covid pandemic. As a result of panic buying, unequal distribution of food occurs. Along with that, overconsumption of food and an increase in food prices happen. Understanding what you have in stock or what you plan to intake daily is essential. One needs to optimize their pantry accordingly. Do not stock too much perishable food and has a shorter shelf-life. It can lead to wastage of food which might have been helpful for someone else.

Which foods to buy

Let’s get to know the nutritional values of affordable foods with a longer shelf life. These foods help you during extended home stays or quarantine (self or imposed). Per the WHO recommendation, your food plate should have a minimum of 400 gm of fruits and vegetables per day. Your diet should include bananas, apples, citrus fruits such as oranges, clementines and grapefruits. They also could be cut into smaller pieces and kept frozen to consume later. You should also include a variety of vegetables like carrots, beets, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. Onion, ginger, garlic etc., should also be kept at home to add taste and flavour to your meal.

Keep frozen fruits and vegetables.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are an excellent option for those quarantine days due to their high shelf life. Fruits like mango, pineapple, and berries have high fibre. They are rich in vitamins. We can eat them in different ways, such as smoothies and juices with yoghurt or porridge. Frozen vegetables are easy to prepare and nutritious too. 

Dried and canned pulses

You can also use different beans, chickpeas, lentils and other pulses to prepare soups or stews. These are excellent sources of vegetable protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. These pulses, chickpeas etc., have a very high shelf life and could be stored for a very long time.

Whole grains and starchy roots

Whole grains, rice, oats, quinoa, etc., have e high shelf life, and their preparation is straightforward. These foods also provide high fibre. Other starchy foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, etc., are a super source of carbohydrates and can be kept for a long time.

Dried fruits, nuts and seeds

Covid diet plan
Covid diet plan

Dried fruits, nuts and seeds are healthy snacks and have a long shelf time. Peanut butter, almond butter etc., are also a good option if they are without added sugar, salt or oils.

Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of protein. They also contain many other nutrients essential for our bodily functions. Boiled or poached eggs are very healthy.

Canned fish

Covid diet plan
Covid diet plan

Canned fish such as tuna, sardines, salmon, etc., are an excellent source of protein. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for our health. Instead of fish canned in oil or brine, choose canned fish in water.

Reduced-fat, shelf-stable milk

Dairy products, especially milk in cartons, have a higher shelf life. Powder milk is another excellent option to go for.

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is a dependence-producing substance. Heavy use of alcohol could reduce the body’s ability to fight covid 19. Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that affects the mental state. It alters your decision-making ability. You become more vulnerable to falls or injuries. It also increases symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are prevented during isolation and quarantine. Therefore, try not to include it in your shopping list.

Follow safe food handling practices

Food safety leads to a healthy diet. When preparing a meal for yourself or your family members, follow good hygiene practices to avoid contamination and food-borne diseases.

Covid diet plan
Covid diet plan
  • Keep your hands clean.
  • We should sanitise the kitchen area and utensils.
  • Use a good source of water.
  • The raw materials such as vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken etc., should be appropriately washed and cleaned before cooking.
  • Keep your raw and cooked food separate.
  • Cook your food properly to avoid foodborne diseases.

Top 5 nutrients to keep in your Covid 19 diet plan

Covid 19 decreases your appetite. It also provides limited access to nutritious, healthy food due to isolation or quarantine. With fewer nutrients for your body, your immune system becomes weak, becomes vulnerable to infections, and delays your ability to recover from illness. 

A healthy diet can boost your immune system whether or not you covid 19. You should add foods with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to your covid diet plan.

1. Vitamin D – Covid diet plan

According to experts, vitamin D is one of the essential micronutrients that can help you fight Covid 19. D vitamin acts on angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which is a protein receptor found in the lungs. Coronavirus binds to ACE2 at the beginning of an infection, leading to severe respiratory distress syndrome and severe illness. But vitamin D interacts with the ACE2 receptors and prevents the virus from binding to the receptor. It reduces complications associated with COVID-19. It also helps to heal the damaged tissues of the lungs.

We receive approximately 80% of the vitamin D from sunlight and 20% from food. But during isolation, the 1st option might not be available; therefore, taking vitamin D-rich foods is a good idea to get the daily recommended amount. Cod liver oil, fish such as herring, sardine, tuna, salmon, and egg yolk, are some excellent sources of vitamin D. Apart from them, fortified orange juice, milk, and yoghurt, are also great vitamin D providers for vegetarians.

It is always advisable to talk to your doctor before taking any vitamin D supplement as they interact with blood thinner medicines.

2. Carotenoids and vitamin A – Covid diet plan

Carotenoids and Vitamin A are antioxidants. They seem to protect the ACE2 receptor-like vitamin D and fight against Covid-19. Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory properties, which greatly help manage pneumonia and respiratory infections. Vitamin A lowers the chances of inflammation and oxidative stress and increases our body’s immune response.

Broccoli, carrots, spinach, sweet potato, bell pepper, avocado, kale, etc., are excellent sources of vitamin A and carotenoids among vegetarians. Beef, liver, chicken liver, mackerel, cod liver oil, and eggs are rich sources of vitamin A and carotenoids if you eat non-vegetarian foods.

3. Zinc – Covid diet plan

A deficiency of Zinc is often associated with a higher risk of infections in COVID-19. Zinc has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It lowers the risk of heart diseases, boosts immunity and is suitable for our eyes. Zinc also reduces the chances of bacterial infection. It decreases the activity of the ACE2 receptors (binding targets of the novel coronavirus).

Ground beef, dark chocolate, oyster, cashew nut, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, etc., are rich in Zinc.

If you are taking zinc supplements, always stick to the dose prescribed by your physician, as excessive Zinc intake could be toxic.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids – Covid diet plan

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. They have numerous health benefits, such as brain health, heart health, reduced inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis and many more. Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are believed to improve the recovery of people with COVID-19. Omega-3 fatty acids lower inflammation and prevent the production of pro-inflammatory compounds. It also improves mood, anxiety and depression, control of which is very important during the covid-19 pandemic.

Salmon, sardines, mackerel, cod liver oil, chia seed, soybean etc., are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

5. Vitamin C – Covid diet plan

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It increases our immunity. Vitamin C lowers oxidative stress and improves endothelial function. Thus, it guards our body against heart disease and helps us recover from the common cold. Researchers believe vitamin C in COVID-19 patients could support recovery. Vitamin C also prevents pneumonia and bacterial infections such as sepsis.

Covid diet plan
Covid diet plan

Oranges, lemon, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, papaya, etc., are rich in vitamin C.

Why is it important to eat well after being diagnosed with COVID? Covid diet plan

Protein, vitamins, and mineral-rich food are vital if you are diagnosed with Covid-19. They help you recover. Protein and energy-rich foods help to rebuild muscles and boost the immune system.

 You can follow the nutrition chart mentioned below to have a healthy diet during Covid-19

Nourishing meals ideas
Cottage cheese/beans with a baked potato.Sandwich with meat, cheese or egg.
Fish/chicken curry with rice.Scrambled/poached egg on toast/bagel.
Chicken with noodles.Dhal with naan bread.
Covid diet plan
Nourishing snacks ideas
Greek yoghurt.A portion of nuts (30g).
A portion of fruits.Custard/milky pudding and stewed fruit.
Covid diet plan
 Protein foods
Aim to have three palm-sized portions per day.
Meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, nuts, chickpeas and meat alternatives e.g., tofu.Keeps our immune system healthy and maintains muscle strength.
Covid diet plan
Dairy/dairy alternative foods
Aim for three thumb-sized portions per day.
Milk, food items including cheese and yoghurt, and milk alternatives such as soya milk fortified with calcium.Provides calcium which helps to keep our teeth and bones strong.
Covid diet plan
Fruit and vegetables
Aim for five portions per day.
One portion = 80g of fresh fruitProvide vitamins and minerals as well as fibre.
Covid diet plan
Starchy foods
Aim for a quarter of main meals to include starchy foods.
Rice, potato, cereals, noodles, chapattis, pasta and bread. Where possible, choose wholegrain varieties.Provide energy and fibre which helps keep our bowels regular.
Covid diet plan
Oils
Aim for unsaturated varieties such as sunflower, olive or rapeseed-based oils.Provide energy and helps us to absorb some vitamins
Covid diet plan

References

  1. Oshima, Y., Watanabe, T., Endo, S., Hata, S., Watanabe, T., Osada, K., & Takenaka, A. (2018). Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid on anxiety-like behavior in socially isolated rats. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry82(4), 716–723. https://doi.org/10.1080/09168451.2017.1403888
  2. (N.d.). Researchgate.net. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319769428_Associations_among_Omega-3_Fatty_Acid_Status_Anxiety_and_Mental_Toughness_in_Female_Collegiate_Athletes

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