Nutrition tips for staying healthy during the Coronavirus

We have been receiving a lot of queries from our service users and coaches, as well as friends and family members, who are concerned during this time. There is quite often conflicting information, or mis-information which even though may be well-meant, can cause anxiety and concern. Our team have worked together to answer some of the more common questions. The team will continue to work to provide answers based on the most accurate, up to date and evidence-based information, as well as sharing tips for maintaining your health during this time.

What can I do to boost my immunity?

There is not one single food or supplement that can be taken to “boost” immunity. Ensure that you eat a well-balanced diet, consisting of wholegrain carbohydrates, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, salads, and healthy fats. To maintain health, try to consume 5-a-day of your fruits and vegetables. Make sure you consume at least 6-8 cups, or 2 litres, or sugar-free fluid per day.

What’s the best way to shop?

A lot of supermarkets are now implementing protected shopping hours (the first hour of opening) and online shopping slots for those considered vulnerable and the elderly. There are restrictions on the number of products that are being bought, so please shop for only what you need.

Many smaller independent shops are well-stocked and could offer an alternative source of groceries if your local supermarket shelves are bare, but we appreciate not everyone has this option. Remember to buy what you need and to consider others who may be less able to shop in bulk.

Ask friends and family members to shop for you if you are not up to going outside or are self-isolating. Many people are volunteering to support those that are self-isolating – using social media is a great way of connecting with people and finding the support you need.

If you are struggling to find fresh fruit, vegetables, milk or meat/poultry/fish, try these alternatives:

  • Tinned vegetables e.g. sweetcorn, peas, carrots, potatoes.
  • Tinned peaches, pears, pineapple, fruit cocktail – choose varieties tinned in juice, or jarred cherries or similar.
  • Jarred antipasti like roast peppers, courgettes and sundried tomatoes – choose low-salt and consume foods preserved in oil in smaller amounts.
  • Tinned or jarred fish – choose those in spring water or olive oil where possible.
  • Frozen fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and vegetarian protein alternatives like Quorn.
  • Dried fruit (prunes, dried apricots etc.) Choose no added sugar varieties if possible. If eating dried fruit, keep to one tablespoon full as a single portion and eat it as part of a meal as it can contain a lot a natural-sugars in a small amount.
  • Dried beans, lentils, pulses, barley and dried soup mixes are great sources of protein and fibre and keep well in the cupboard for a long time.
  • Some fresh foods may be available and last well in the fridge or on the counter – apples, kiwi fruit, waxed citrus fruit, celery, onions, cabbage, spring onions, root vegetables like swede, turnips, celeriac
  • Tinned soups sometimes indicate how many of your five a day a portion contains – lookout for this information on labels. One portion of tinned or dry cooked beans (half a tin or 3-4 tablespoons cooked) count towards your five a day as well. Flavour with herbs, spices and citrus juices instead of salt.

What should I eat if I become poorly?

If you do become poorly, you can often lose your appetite. Try the following tips for maintaining nourishment and helping your body to recover as soon as possible:

  • Eat small meals often.
  • Don’t fill up on drinks before a meal is due
  • Switch to full-fat versions of foods for the time that you are ill.
  • Try soups made with cream.
  • If you have a sore throat, try blended, smooth soups, yoghurts and milk-based drinks.
  • Dry foods and ginger flavoured foods can help with nausea and feelings of sickness
  • It is not encouraged to lose weight whilst you are ill. This is because it can take longer to recover and can reduce lean muscle mass. If you are ill, aim to maintain your weight as much as possible, and then think about weight loss again once you are better.
  • These are extraordinary circumstances, so do the best you can, allow yourself to adapt and focus on the areas in your lifestyle that you are able to control in terms of your choices. Plan to return to your usual habits once this is possible.

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