What should I eat if I have COVID-19?

ere is some basic guidelines of what could make you feel a little better if you get COVID -19.

Just to be clear—there is no magic diet that will help. We have some information about foods and drinks that may reduce flu and cold symptoms or duration, but we don’t know specifically about COVID-19 (understandably, as the virus is so new). Here’s some general guidance to help you feed yourself or a loved one who gets sick, including what to eat and drink, what to limit, and how to prepare in advance.

Remember symptoms vary greatly from person to person.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. But some may feel muscle pain, fatigue, sore throats and gut symptoms, like diarrhoea (call your doctor if you’re not feeling well). Just like with the flu, you may not be feeling as hungry. You may also lose your sense of taste and smell, which can impact your appetite and how much food you actually take in.

Try this….
Added note:
Loss of taste and smell Try using acids like lemon juice or vinegar to season foods. Acid is a very strong flavour that comes through even when taste or smell is impaired, and it doesn’t add any sodium, sugar or calories. Adding a larger quantity of spices can also be helpful. Black pepper, chilli pepper (if you like spicy foods and don’t suffer with gut problems), cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder and ginger can all add strong flavours that might come through even with a diminished sense of taste or smell Not being able to enjoy food really dulls the incentive to eat well! Be mindful of the amount of salt or sugar being added to foods—and for now, do not ‘salt to taste’ because that may put you well over the daily recommendation for sodium intake.
Dehydration Try encourage:

  • water
  • tea with honey
  • broth
  • diluted 100% juice
  • seltzer/ coconut water
  • electrolyte drinks
  • Ensure (nutritional supplement drink)
  • Rugani carrot & ginger  veg extract juice
It’s very important to stay hydrated as you may lose more water than normal through sweating, diarrhoea and not eating (a lot of our daily fluid actually comes from the food we eat).
Flu like symptoms, loss of appetite and lethargy.

Getting enough calories!

You may have heard the saying, starve a fever, feed a cold” but there isn’t research to back that up. Your body needs calories for energy to help fight an infection.

Try to  fortify your food so you can get quality calories in small quantities. Add things like grated cheese, grated egg, biltong shavings, olive oil, skim milk powder, nut butters  and ground seeds and nuts to foods like porridge, soups, casseroles, curries, smoothies & drinks.

Try go for soft foods , which are easy to chew like mincemeat (rather than steak), shredded chicken in soup or with gravy, mash, scrambled eggs, smoothies or pureed vegetables. Slow cooked meal works well.

Eat small frequent meals, rather than one large meal.

Avoid empty calories like diet drinks, too much tea and coffee.
Try this….
Added note:
Nausea/ vomiting/ pain Ginger seems to be beneficial for a myriad of conditions, but it is far from a cure-all. More research is needed, but, in general, 1 g of real ginger (sorry, not ginger-flavoured gingersnaps or sugary soda) throughout the day seems to be both safe and effective. You can try about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger, homemade ginger tea, or 1 cup of ginger ale (made with real ginger).
Upper respiratory tract infection Try chicken soup!

Some studies suggest that chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity. A mild anti-inflammatory effect could be one mechanism by which the soup could result in the mitigation of symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections.

Relieve a cough Could try hot water/herbal  tea with 1 tsp honey. Can add sliced fresh ginger and lemon. Avoid extremely cold foods

Foods to limit/ avoid:

Alcohol, foods that take too long to chew like tough meat, very dry foods, crunchy hard foods like some crackers, very spicy foods and very acidic things that might aggravate your throat depending on your symptoms.

Things I can prepare in advance:

Soup and casseroles freeze really well. Buy foods you can keep with a long shelf life (rice, pasta, legumes, canned veggies) or in the freezer as you don’t know what you might feel like when you get sick. Frozen fruit, wraps, breads, cheese and vegetables work well.

Important nutrients to help support immunity: Protein and Vitamin A, C ,D, E and zinc.

Try including daily:

Protein: Meat, chicken, liver, fish, eggs, legumes, cheese and yogurt.

Vit A: liver, sweet potato & other orange veggies & fruit, spinach, cheese, milk, peppers.

Vit C: citrus fruits, kiwi, guava, pepper, broccoli, etc.

Vit D: egg, sardine, yogurt, milk, salmon and SUNSHINE.

Vit E: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and peanut butter, etc.

Zinc: oysters, seafoods, meat & poultry, legumes, yogurt and pumpkin seeds.

Basic nutrient-dense, easy-to-make meal plan:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Original Oat so easy/ oats/ Tasty wheat / Pronutro
  • Future Life powder with milk

(CHOOSE 1 OR 2 OPTIONS – Depending on how you feel)

  • Yogurt
  • Easy Fruit- berries, strawberries, nartjies, grapes, bananas, sliced apple. (Can buy pre- cut)
  • Peanut butter
  • Smoothies
  • Shakes
  • Oatcakes
  • Fruit puree
  • Cheese

(CHOOSE 1 OR 2 OPTIONS – Depending on how you feel)

  • Soup with grated mozzarella or shredded chicken
  • Baked beans on bread
  • Pasta with grated cheese & tomatoes
  • Seeded soft roll with cottage cheese, avocado & cucumber
  • Pre-made left-over casserole
  • Baked/ microwaved sweet potato with cottage cheese

(CHOOSE 1 OR 2 OPTIONS – Depending on how you feel)


As snacks above

  • Bran muffins
  • Hummus with vegetable chips/ salt and vinegar mini rice cakes
  • Popcorn
  • Boiled egg/ egg muffin
  • Rugani carrot & ginger juice

(CHOOSE 1 OR 2 OPTIONS – Depending on how you feel)

  • Casseroles
  • Mild curries
  • Spaghetti bolognaise
  • Soups
  • Soft hake fillets with frozen veg

(CHOOSE 1 OR 2 OPTIONS – Depending on how you feel)

  • Yogurt
  • Ensure drink
  • Smoothie
  • Glass of milk

(CHOOSE 1 OR 2 OPTIONS – Depending on how you feel)

Could resort to ready-made meals that get delivered if necessary:

Try adding some veggies to these meals like baby spinach, cucumber, tomato or some steamed broccoli/ cauliflower if possible.

Handy food delivery apps which work well:
  • Zulzi ( includes, Woolworths, PNP, Dischem, Clicks, Spar)
  • Checkers Sixty 60
  • Woolworths online store

A note on ENSURE/ ENSURE NUTRIVIGOR: https://www.ensure.abbott/za   OR Nestle NUTREN FIBER (takealot)

Ensure is a reputable complete oral nutritional supplement which can be used 1-5 times a day depending on your needs. Ensure shake can be used instead of milk with cereals, smoothies, puddings, soups ,etc, to boost nutritional value. For recipes go to : https://ensure.ca/en/recipes

For more information or for specific medical advice regarding nutrition please contact:

Christine Rice -Registered Dietitian Sunninghill. We offer online or in-person consults.

Call reception on 011-803 5738. Or make a booking at www.christinericenutrition.com

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