Healthy Eating Key Messages – Covid 19 and Beyond
There are no foods that ‘boost’ your immune system or will stop you from catching Covid-19. Eating a healthy balanced diet will make your immune system work at its best. Practicing good hygiene and social distancing is the most effective way to reduce your chance of infection.
If you are self-isolating, and especially if you have symptoms of Covid-19, it is important to maintain good nutrition and hydration. Eat and drink regularly throughout the day – even if your appetite is low.
Base your 3 main meals a day on starchy carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, cereals)
- Make sure to stick to recommended portion sizes – 1 jacket potato, a fist size portion of cooked rice. Use the Love Food Hate Waste Portion Planner to find out the recommended portions: https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/portion-planner
- Try to eat wholemeal / higher fibre products (such as brown rice or pasta). Generally, people in the UK don’t eat their daily recommended amount of fibre. Fibre is important for good gut health and eating wholemeal food helps increase your fibre intake. Eating potatoes with the skin on is also a good way of increasing your fibre intake.
Eat at least 5 fruit and vegetables a day
- Eat a variety of colours – different coloured fruit and veg contain different vitamins and minerals
- Fresh, frozen or tinned (in water or own juices) are all good ways to get your 5 a day
- Only 150ml of fruit or vegetable juice counts as one of your 5 a day. This is because juiced drinks free the sugars in the food, which can attack your teeth more easily.
- Dried fruit also contributes to your 5 a day. Try to have them with meals rather than as snacks because they stick to your teeth – which can cause tooth decay.
Eat 2 portions of protein a day (e.g. beans, pulses, eggs, fish, meat)
- These can be animal or plant based proteins (such as beans, lentils or nuts)
- Try to eat 2 portions of fish a week, with one being an oily fish (like sardines, mackerel or salmon).
- You can buy these fresh or tinned but ideally not smoked (high in salt) or in oil or brine.
- Eat less red and processed meat – bacon, ham, etc – for a healthier diet
- Remove any excess fat / skin from animal sources of protein before cooking or eating
- Pulses (e.g. beans and lentils) are low in fat but high in fibre, vitamins and minerals
Have 3 portions of dairy or alternatives a day (e.g. milk, cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, fromage frais)
- Use low fat and low sugar options (such as skimmed or semi skimmed milk)
- Alternatives include: soya milk, coconut yogurt, vegan cheese. When buying dairy alternatives choose unsweetened and calcium-fortified versions.
- Dairy is a good source of calcium for strong bones and teeth
Use oils and spreads as little as possible
- Use plant based oils and spreads, such as vegetable oil or olive based spreads, as they are low in saturated fats.
- Animal based products (e.g. butter, beef drippings) are high in saturated fats
- Use low fat spreads, but still in only small amounts
Drink 6 – 8 glasses/cups of fluid throughout the day (about 2 litres)
- Water, milk, tea and coffee all contribute to your fluid intake
- Alcohol, soft drinks and energy drinks don’t count – as they are high in calories and/or caffeine
- Juices and smoothies also count towards your fluid intake (but no more than 150ml a day)
For more information about eating a healthy balanced diet, please click on the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/