What to Eat When you have Coronavirus
Updated: Mar 11
Yesterday I invited you to ask any questions that you might have about nutrition. (If you don't get my daily emails, sign up here)
One question that came back was ‘what do I eat when I’m ill?’
It’s winter: ‘colds and flu season’.
Also Coronavirus is spreading like wildfire, so it’s good to be prepared. 😐
(Although it’s hopefully clear that the above is tongue-in-cheek, I should probably still say the following)
*Disclaimer – I am not a medical professional. I am a nutritionist. What follows are general guidelines for nutritional considerations for general immunity, and for prevention of disease, and by no means represent a treatment for Coronavirus or other diseases. If you have severe symptoms, please see a GP.* So what are your nutritional priorities when you are ill? Or when you are trying to prevent yourself getting ill?
First of all, if you’ve previously been sticking to a calorie deficit, now is a good time to have a break from that.
Physiologically, bringing yourself back up to maintenance calories will give your body the energy it needs to fight off potential infections and viruses. Psychologically, it's also beneficial to give yourself a mental break from a diet, and to concentrate on healing and recovery.
(By the way, the phrase ‘feed a cold, starve a fever’ is actually a pretty pointless assessment. Just eat if you feel like it, don’t if you don’t.)
Secondly, you should be looking to fill your diet with as much micronutrition as possible.
Meaning extra portions of fruit and veg, and lots of variety. The more variety of fruits and veg we take in, the more variety of bacteria is introduced to our gut microbiome, equipping it with further tools to fight off harmful bacteria.
Your protein intake is also important for the immune system
So make sure you’re having a good serving of protein in every meal. For a useful guideline, take your bodyweight in kilos, and multiply by 0.4. This will give you the grams of protein you need for each meal. (Take note that, for example, a 100g chicken breast contains around 31g of protein).
Fats are also important for immunity.
So a variety of different naturally-occurring fats will be beneficial. By naturally-occuring, we mean nuts, avocado, olives (and olive oil), oily fish, dairy etc. Not hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Sleep will be very important for recovery.
Get your 8 hours at least. (Anecdotally, I find that it's when my sleep is disturbed that illnesses creep in).
And finally, potentially some supplementation with some Vitamin D, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
You know what?
Have a Lemsip if you want as well.
You may have noticed something.
Which is this:
If you ate this way all the time, you would probably give yourself the best chance of not getting a cold in the first place.
Or the flu.
Or Coronavirus. (I’m joking – please see disclaimer above).
Some people find it difficult to eat in this way.
Others just need some accountability.
If this is you, and you want to improve your health long term (as well as getting in the shape of your life, and eating in an environmentally friendly way), the Healthy Planet Project is for you.
PS. When you’re ready, here’s a few ways I can help: