Diet plan for COVID19 and post COVID patients

As COVID19 second wave plunders through the country, the focus is now more than ever on finding the strength to fight the disease. Like any other disease, COVID-19 raids through your body and plunders its for resources. Your body works overtime, breaking muscle if need be to supply nutrients to your body’s immune system to fight the onslaught. As such, a good diet plan for COVID19 is what you need – to supply your body with the right fuel to fight the disease and help you on your road to recovery.

Diet plan for COVID19 as recommended by doctors essentially focusses on a balanced diet with an increase in protein and trace element intake. The reason is simple – your body needs those to make enough anti-bodies to fight the virus. But what to eat? And how much? Read on to understand the diet recommendations for COVID19 patients (both present and recovering).

It is important to remember, COVID19 may last for about 14 days, but the body needs a longer time to recuperate. So when symptoms fade, do not give up on good nutrition. It is imperative that you continue with a healthy and protein rich diet. Golden rule – follow your doctor’s recommendation.

  • Calorie intake – Non-obese -25-30kcal/kg Actual Body Weight, Overweight or obese- 25-30kcal/kg IBW or Adjusted BW and Underweight -25-35kcal/kg Adjusted BW. If you cannot really count the calories, do not worry too much. Focus on a simple age old concept of a balanced diet with portions of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.
  • Protein requirement increases and patients are advised about 1-1.5gm/kg/ Actual Body Weight – your medical practitioner would suggest you the same and may recommend protein supplements for a while
  • Fats are important. Traditional ‘Ghee’ is known to boost your immune system so do not shy away from it. Patients may consume fat worth about 25-30% of the total calorie intake
  • Multivitamin, minerals & trace elements are essential. Your physician would recommend supplements for Vitamin C, D and E as well as Zinc to help your immune system as well as any symptoms of diarrhea.  As per RDA, a COVID19 patient requires about 10-1000mcg/day of Vitamin D, 134-800mg/day of Vitamin E, 30-220mg of Zinc and 200mg – 2gm Vitamin C depending on your body weight and condition. Patients must follow the dosage as prescribed by the doctor and not self-medicate.

Apart from this, about 3 liters of fluid in the form of water, coconut water, lemon water, etc. is recommended. Fresh fruit juice may be a good source of energy for patients not able to eat much. Remember, hydration is crucial and would not only help your body fight the disease better but would also ensure that you are able to ward of any further symptoms and flush out the toxins most effectively.

With COVID, many patients are experiencing the loss of taste and smell. Sore throat also makes it a little difficult to eat and swallow. In such circumstances and during early days, pattients may start with trying to meet 50% and increase the nutritional requirement to 70% in 3 days and 100% in a week. Remember – eating is essential.

It is recommended that about 400-600kcals/day and 30gms of protein should be provided orally. To understand protein requirement, a normal sized hen’s egg has about 6 gm of protein. To meet this added requirement, the doctor may prescribe you ONS or Oral Nutritional Supplements. Follow the advise and review the patients’ diet every three days.

Tea and Green tea is a good source of anti-oxidants and so are chocolate. Small amounts of dark chocolate would help the patient.

COVID19 Diet – What not to do

  • Discontinue any supplement without your doctor’s consultation.
  • Drink alcohol, aerated drinks as they dehydrate your body
  • Follow fads like Turmeric Shots in the morning

Apart from this, the leftover food should be treated as medical waste and thrown away. As such, it is recommended to serve smaller portions to the patient. Also, in case a person is not able to eat much of solid food or is suffering from diarrhea, vegetables can be added to ‘Khichdi’ and given to the patient. Sprouted pulses can be used to make the khichdi or vegetable soups can be incorporate.

COVID19 Diet – What to do

  • Have a balanced diet with carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vegetables.
  • Try different sources of proteins. For non-vegetarians Eggs, Chicken and fish are good sources of protein. People suffering from lung infection would benefit with fish. For vegetarians, soya, paneer, buttermilk (chacsh), nuts and sprouted pulses would be a good source of protein.
  • Follow the prescribed Oral Nutrition Supplements diligently.
  • When able, encourage regular physical activity and breathing exercise. Quarantined patients are advised to walk around the room and do breathing exercised as per their tolerance. Never overexert and yet movement is essential.
  • Vitamin C and D would be recommended for a longer period – follow the prescription.

But how to know that your micro-nutrients are managed? A simple rule is to incorporate 5 coloured foods in your diet each day. This could be tomato, Cucumber, Onions, Capsicum, fruits like bananas, mangoes, melons and so on. 5 colours in your diet would help you keep the count right. Try consuming almonds and raisins, whole grain food. As far as possible, eat freshly cooked home food, prefer seasonal fruits and vegetables over frozen foods.

Sample Diet Plan Chart for COVID19

  • Breakfast: Veg Poha / Dalia/ Chila/ Veg upma/ Namkeen veg seviya/ idli + 2 egg whites
  • Mid morning – A cup of tea or ginger tea or green tea / Coconut Water/ Lemon Water
  • Lunch: Chapati/ Rice/ Veg Pulao/ khichdi/ dal, green vegs, Curd & Salad (carrot, tomatoes and cucumber)
  • Evening – Tea with 2 Marie Biscuits/ Sprout Chat (1 katori)
  • Dinner: Chapati/ Rice/ Soya or Paneer or Chicken/ Green veggies/ Salad

Golden rule – follow your doctor. If not available, follow your traditional wisdom. Have a helping of fruit, vegetables and do not compromise on your energy rich foods like carbohydrates. Remember, COVID19 is a disease and you need to help your body fight it. A good Diet plan for covid19 would help you build the resistance and also keep you in a good mood to overcome this pandemic. So soldier on!

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.

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