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Nutritionist tips during the COVID-19 lockdown

COVID-19 is exposing us to new challenges, so I decided to put together some helpful tips for these unprecedented times.

  • Now is not the time to drastically change your diet. These are stressful times, so do not put extra pressure on yourself, as stress in itself is inflammatory and can weaken your immune system. Instead, you could always aim to make a small change week by week, such as eating an extra piece of fruit every day or drinking a bit more water.

  • At present, there are no known foods or supplements that will ward off the Corona virus. If you are taking supplements, take into consideration the following:

  1. Vitamin C can reduce the length of symptoms in the case of colds and flu, but it will not prevent or cure COVID-19. If you take more than the recommended amount, your body can’t store it and you will simply be peeing away your money.

  2. Never take more than the recommended dose of vitamins A, D, E and K as this can cause toxicity and/or adverse effects, including but not limited to fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, nausea and inflammation.

  3. If you are taking medications, always check with a pharmacist if it is safe to take vitamins in order to avoid any negative side effects. Examples include:

- Vitamin A supplements and retinol-based creams or gels

- Vitamin C supplements and anti-acids

- Vitamin K and Warfarin

  • Avoid anything stating that it is a ‘miracle cure’ or ‘immune boosting’ and certainly don’t believe that it will protect you or make you immune from COVID-19. Instead, focus on consuming a diet that provides you with the right nutrients to achieve optimal health. Eating a varied diet is a great way to achieve this; you can refer to the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in an earlier blog I have written, which is a great way of obtaining a balanced diet.

  • With regards to food items themselves:

  1. Remember to check the dates of your perishable items and use them before they expire or freeze them where possible – either by themselves or as a pre-prepared meal you have made yourself to eat at a later date.

  2. Make a weekly meal plan and stick to it to ensure you use what you have, rather than having to throw food away.

  • If you have relatives or friends who fall into the at-risk category, they are potentially also at greater risk of malnutrition, which can increase their risk of infection and slow down their recovery. You can identify malnutrition by using the Patients Association Nutrition Checklist. Some things to watch out for include:

  1. Rings on fingers or clothing becoming looser

  2. A loss of interest in eating

  3. Tiredness or lethargy

  • If you are worried about an older person losing weight, you can help them by encouraging them to eat a nutrient-dense diet little and often and advising them to avoid drinking before mealtimes. Ideas of what you can do include:

  1. Adding cheese to sauces and mashed potatoes

  2. Adding nut butters to porridge

  3. Adding cream to mashed potato, soups and puddings

  • If you have the following health issues, there is specific COVID-19 advice available to you:

  1. Diabetes: refer to Diabetes UK

  2. Coeliac disease: : refer to Coeliac UK

  3. Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis: refer to Crohn’s & Colitis UK

  4. Food allergies: refer to Allergy UK

In summary, don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself, focusing on health as opposed to trying to do too much at once; ask for advice where you are unsure and look out for those people who are vulnerable.

Keep safe everyone :-)


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