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What COVID-19 Means for Nutrition

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Healthy eating has always been important, but now more than ever we have the opportunity to eat for our short-term and long-term health. Current evidence suggests that older people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk of developing more severe illness or complications from COVID-19. Most people with COVID-19 recover, however those living with a chronic disease are at a higher risk of death if they do become ill.

Eating a variety of good nutrients is important to maintain good health, a healthy immune system, and continue to prevent against chronic disease or chronic disease complications for those living with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and/ or cancer.During the COVID-19 self-isolation, regardless if you have symptoms, it is recommended to:

  • Wash hands before/after going to the grocery store, cooking, and eating food

  • Stay hydrated, drinking ~2 litres per day (based on healthy adult male guidelines)

  • Take inventory of what you have in your pantry and freezer

  • Purchase foods from a variety of food groups with a long shelf life: frozen, tinned, dried

Some basic, but very important, points on nutrition and COVID-19:

  • Diet cannot “boost” your immune system

  • No food or supplement will prevent you from catching COVID-19


There are many nutrients that are involved with normal functioning of the immune system. A healthy, balanced diet with a variety of foods and better-for-you nutrients is encouraged. The best way to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients to keep your immune system and other health needs under control is to eat foods from all food groups.

Below are the main food groups to ensure your online grocery order or next large trip to the grocery store contains items from each of the following:

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Frozen fruit – make smoothies or defrost in the fridge overnight to add to yogurt or cereal

  • Frozen vegetables – add to eggs in the morning, or sauté to add to lunch and dinner meals

  • Canned fruit and vegetables – look for canned fruit in water rather than syrup and add canned vegetables to a mixed bean salad or a stir fry

  • Dried fruit and vegetables – for a snack when fresh, frozen, or tinned aren’t available

Grains and Starches

  • Whole grain bread, pasta, cereals - Look for “whole grains” in ingredient list whenever possible

  • Bread products – freeze bread products if purchasing in bulk

  • Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes - can be stored in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months

Milk/ Dairy

  • Milk – it’s OK to put cow’s milk in the freezer, it will expand when frozen so leave some room in the container

  • Milk alternatives - have a shelf life of ~1 month when unopened

  • Yogurt – freezing will make the texture undesirable, but regular yogurt lasts 1-3 weeks after opening the container


  • Lentils – can purchase tinned or dried and can be used in a salad or soup

  • Tofu - can last for 3-5 months in the freezer

  • Eggs - an affordable source of protein for breakfast, lunch, or dinner

  • Frozen fish – source of healthy fats

  • Canned tuna and salmon – make a tuna melt, add to salads

  • Nuts – unsalted mixed nuts as a snack or as a topper for cereal or salads

  • Fresh beef and chicken - can be stored in the freezer for 6-9 months




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