Is what I eat affecting my recovery?

Find out information on the value of nutrition and how healthy your current diet is

On this page you will find advice related to improving your diet in order to help your recovery from COVID-19.

This includes information on:

  • identifying nutritional problems
  • seeking professional help
  • self-screening tools and checklists.

Identifying yourself at risk of nutritional problems

Contact your healthcare professional to get nutritional support if any of these apply to you:

  • You have ongoing symptoms (such as poor appetite, sore mouth, tiredness) 12 weeks after you had the first COVID-19 symptom.
  • You have high blood pressure, diabetes or you have been told that your body mass index (BMI) was over 30 before having COVID-19.
  • You were hospitalised as a result of COVID-19 and do not have a dietetic, COVID-19 clinic, GP, or consultant follow-up appointment within one to two months of discharge.
  • If you are currently using an oral nutritional supplement such as (but not limited to): Ensure, Glucerna, Boost Isocal, Foodlink, Fortisip, Aymes and similar, with the aim of ameliorating your COVID-19 symptoms.

Finding appropriate help and professional advice

The following people may be able to help you with any difficulties caused by the symptoms of COVID-19: 

  • GP practice
  • hospital consultant 
  • dietitian
  • nutritionist.

For information to help you find a dietitian or nutritionist, please see our Find a dietitian or nutritionist to help your COVID-19 recovery page.

These are the type of things that they can help you with:

  • be a source of advice and support and signpost you to support groups, to a link worker if this is available and online apps
  • how to get support from local services, the Department for Work and Pensions and advice about financial support
  • provide information as a reminder of what was discussed
  • idea for managing breathlessness, fatigue or brain fog
  • additional support such as if you are self-isolating, lonely or recently bereaved.

Access our series of talks and Q&A with top world experts for practical tips and updated information.

This includes a talk by a clinical psychologist explaining how to get the most out of your consultations with health care professionals.

Self-screening tools and checklist

These tools are designed to identify risk of under-nutrition but cannot identify specific vitamin or mineral deficiencies. If you think you may have a deficiency of a vitamin or mineral you will need the advice of a dietitian or registered nutritionist.

BAPEN Malnutrition Self-Screening Tool

If you are concerned about significant changes in your life and health that prevent you from eating what you did before COVID-19, use this online tool from the BAPEN Malnutrition Self-Screening website to find out whether you may be at nutritional risk.

Do not worry if you do not remember your weight or cannot weight yourself, just think about whether your clothes or belt have become looser or tighter, watch out for rings becoming looser or watch-straps needing tightening. Also sometimes dentures may become loose with weight loss. If you have noticed weight change (loss or increase), or if any of your symptoms affect what you eat, use this self-screening tool.

Patient Association Nutrition Checklist

The Patient Association Nutrition Checklist is another tool that helps you understand whether you need dietary advice and nutritional assessment. You can download it from the Patient Association website [PDF].

If you have problems with swallowing, you can download a self assessment from the Melbourne Ent Group website [PDF]. Although this is not a locally produced tool, it provides a reference for you to review this with a speech and language therapist or an occupational therapist or dietitian.  

Yorkshire Rehabilitation Tool

If you are concerned that you may have long COVID or ongoing symptoms of COVID, there is a set of questions for nutritional aspects from the Yorkshire Rehabilitation Tool which have been approved by the National Institute for Health Research, to assess how patients are doing with recovery. If you answer yes to the first question, contact your healthcare professional:

  • Are you or your family concerned that you have ongoing weight loss or any ongoing nutritional concerns as a result of COVID-19? Yes ☐ No ☐
  • Please rank your appetite or interest in eating on a scale of 0-10 since COVID-19 (0 being same as usual/no problems, 10 being very severe problems/reduction)

What should I be eating?

As a start you should follow healthy eating guidelines which can be found in The Eatwell Guide.

The evidence also suggests that a Mediterranean style diet is highly beneficial. This includes:

  • wholegrain breads
  • fresh vegetables and fruits
  • fish and seafood
  • nuts, seeds, legumes and potatoes
  • herbs and spices
  • healthy fats: extra virgin olive oil, avocados, olives and avocado oil
  • greek yogurt, eggs, cheese and poultry which should be eaten in moderation.

One of our experts covers this in more detail during a talk called Is there an anti-inflammatory diet? You can view this talk by Professor Calder on our Nutrition and COVID-19 Recovery page.

However, your symptoms may mean that you need to adapt you diet further. You can find more advice on this on our Understanding symptoms during your COVID-19 recovery page.

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