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)?
Below are two tools that you can use to identify whether you are at risk of malnutrition.
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.
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 :
Nutrition in hospital after critical illness: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/nutrition-in-hospital-after-critical-illness.html
Nutrition at home after critical illness: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/nutrition-at-home-after-critical-illness.html
Tips to help with eating problems after critical illness: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/tips-to-help-with-eating-problems-after-critical-illness.html
The NHS website provides information to manage at home, providing ideas for drinks, snacks, store cupboard supplies and supporting older adults.
Video / visual information
- Cambridge Sustainable Food are working to ensure that vulnerable people have access to food during the Covid-19 crisis
- Local food bank
- Official NHS volunteers with Good Samaritans + Royal Voluntary Service – 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 https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHSreferral
Vulnerable individuals can self-refer by calling 0808 196 3646