Donegal Nutritionist Sorcha McElchar from Sorchas Healthy Living shares five tips for anyone who wants to eat well to support their recovery from an illness such as Covid-19.
Recovering from an illness is never easy. It can sometimes feel like you’ll never feel your old self again, but there are things you can do to help along your recovery.
Like with most illnesses, recovery is not the time to be thinking about weight loss. Even if you are overweight. Your body uses up a lot of calories during recovery time. So even if you aren’t very mobile a nourishing high energy diet with plenty of vitamins, minerals and protein is usually on the cards.
So here are some general Nutrition & wellbeing recovery tips that you can follow to speed up your recovery!
1. First off choose foods that are nutritious yet palatable. Choose foods that are energy dense, so high calorie, with plenty of protein. Some good foods for recovery include,
- Fish, especially oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel or sardines.
- Beans, any beans are full of protein and fibre.
- Dairy is easily digested for most people (unless your lactose intolerant of have a dairy intolerance)
- Nut butters like peanut butter or almond butter are great sources of protein and healthy fats.
2. Fruit & Vegetables are super important, but as they are quite low calories try not to forget about protein and fat sources. Fruit and veg will give you those immune boosting vitamins A, C and E as well as Zinc, Potassium, Magnesium, and fibre. Snacking on little fruit salads can be a great way to get your appetite back though.
3. Stay hydrated! I cannot stress how important it is to stay hydrated when you’re ill and during recovery from any illness. Normally water is fine, but if you aren’t eating a lot of nutritional shakes or even homemade smoothies with a bit of protein powder (from a safe reliable source, purely to add calories and protein) can be good. Electrolyte sports drinks with small frequent snacks is also good.
4. If you do suffer from the dreaded lost sense of taste and/or smell, try experimenting with hot and cold foods, and different textures to see if you can hotwire your tastebuds back again. Use strong herbs and spices to make food more flavoursome. Remember fat is a flavour carrier, so adding butter, cream and oils can also increase a foods flavour and make a food extra palatable.
5. Sleep also plays an important role in recovery. A person’s sleep requirement increases with illness and recovery from illness. Sleep deprivation also significantly weakens a person’s immune system too, making them more susceptible to illness and increasing recovery time. If you find it difficult to get to sleep, try to avoid sleep medication if you can. Try natural options like infusing lavender or other essential oils, taking a warm bath before bed. Switching off all screens at least an hour before sleeping. Trying to read a book or listening to an audio book or guided meditation instead. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol several hours before bedtime can help you get a restful sleep too. Taking little cat naps during the day is perfectly fine during recovery. Like with food you should listen to your body. If you’re tired sleep.
When you are starting to feel a bit stronger start moving ASAP. Even if it’s simple walking around the room. Using resistance bands are also a great way to keep those muscles working, and there are plenty of seated exercises out there. With muscle if you don’t use them, you lose them quickly!
Hopefully these tips give you something to work off on your road to recovery. Remember our bodies are amazing and if we treat them well, they can work wonders!
If you’d like to check out my video on “6 Tips To A Healthy Immune System” click here!
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