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Nutrition during and after COVID-19

For most, contracting COVID-19 will be a mild illness which might not impact on your food intake.

If you are self-isolating and have symptoms, it is important you maintain a regular and good intake of food and fluid, even if your appetite has been reduced.

If you have specific nutrition needs, it is important that you continue to follow the dietary recommendations made by you dietitian or other healthcare professional. This may involve asking friends or family members to get you specific foods so you can continue to follow an appropriate diet.

The following information might be helpful for people whose food intake has been reduced by illness and / or have other pre-existing conditions affecting how much they can eat and drink.

Eating well helps you avoid malnutrition (undernutrition) losing weight, helps your body rebuild damaged tissues, fight infection and cope with the side-effects of treatment.

Experiencing a COVID-19 infection may also increase your risk of malnutrition, regardless of your body weight. Your ability to eat adequately to fight the infection and recover may be reduced due to symptoms such as:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Taste and smell changes
  • Feeling unwell e.g. generalised weakness, fatigue (tiredness)
  • Breathlessness and coughing

Are you at risk of malnutrition (undernutrition)?

If you were admitted to Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

You may be seen by a Dietitian during your admission, and / or contacted afterwards to help you recover.

In addition to written information entitled ‘High Energy, High Protein Diet’ and ‘Nourishing Drinks’, you may have been provided with some “oral nutrition supplements” or nutrition drinks when you were discharged from hospital.  These nutrition drinks provide extra energy (calories or kcal), protein, vitamins and minerals to help you recover from illness, maintain or gain body weight, if needed. It is important that you take the correct amount of these every day; if you cannot manage the amount directed by your Dietitian, please contact the Dietetic department.

The websites and links below provide a range of information for people to prevent or treat undernutrition, to aid recovery from a COVID -19 infection and sources of support for including volunteer schemes and food banks. We hope that you find this information helpful.

Written information

British Dietetic Association (BDA) (opens in a new tab)

The BDA website contains lots of useful information and practical advice on improving food intake during COVID-19, including tailored advice for malnutrition (undernutrition) and those also following special diets.

It also now includes information specifically for those recovering from critical illness : 

NHS patient hand outs (opens in a new tab)

The NHS website provides information to manage at home, providing ideas for drinks, snacks, store cupboard supplies and supporting older adults.

Video / visual information

Information from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals (opens in a new tab)

This interactive website includes information on managing breathlessness, eating well, physical health as well as tips to help you swallow safely and more effectively.

NHS patient webinar (opens in a new tab)

Video (23 minutes) on managing malnutrition at home.

Local services

Working to ensure that vulnerable people have access to food during the Covid-19 crisis

Volunteer service to support vulnerable and shielding individuals with essential tasks including the collection / delivery of shopping / medications.

Referral through their Health or local government professional via GoodSAM (opens in a new tab).

Vulnerable individuals can self-refer by calling 08081 963646.

Contact us

If you have any ongoing nutritional concerns and would like to enquire about dietetic input, please contact us on 01223 216655 or email us (please include your full name, hospital number and date of birth).