Covid rehabilitation: Dietetics

Watch this video to find out more about what to eat and drink whilst you recover from COVID-19.


Many patients during and after illness lose their appetite and struggle to eat enough to meet their nutritional needs. Protein, energy (calories), fluid, vitamins and minerals are all important for anyone who is recovering from an illness.

This information is aimed at those who have lost weight unintentionally or have a poor appetite. In these circumstances it is important to make the most of the foods you are eating. Below are examples of nutrient dense foods and nourishing drinks which can help to improve energy and protein intake during your recovery during this time. Once recovery is complete and appetite back to normal, you may need to limit your intake of these types of foods, but your health professional can advise on this if you are unsure.

Please note that if you have a medical condition, food allergy, swallowing difficulty or impaired kidney function the information below may not be right for you so please consult your health professional.

Fortified foods

Fortifying your foods will help increase your energy and protein intake.

Many foods can be used to fortify your diet.


Peanut butter, butter, chocolate spread, honey, cheese


Cheese, butter, mayonnaise, crème fraiche, double cream


Cheese, double cream, butter, green pesto, mayonnaise


Skimmed milk powder, ground almonds, peanut butter, chocolate spread


Yoghurt, squirty cream, clotted cream, ice-cream, double cream, honey


Cheese, rapeseed oil, butter, crème fraiche, pesto


Skimmed milk powder, crème fraiche, double cream, coconut milk



Protein is essential to promote recovery during and after injury or illness, and it is vital in maintaining muscle and strength. Aim to eat a portion of 20-30g protein with at least two meals each day to help meet your needs. This includes:

There are lots of options to include more protein in your diet.

100g meat/fish

3 x sausages

3 x rashers bacon

1 x burger

X 3

4 x cheese slices

100g cheese

150g cottage cheese

1 x pint milk

150-200g tofu

300-400g tin of beans

150g meat-substitute including Quorn e.g. mince, pieces, strips, roast



  • Getting enough fluid is essential for good health and you may need more than usual if you have any infection.
  • Adults are usually advised to drink 6-8 mugs or large glasses a day but this may need to be higher if you have a temperature, during warm weather or if you are experiencing loose stools. Nourishing drinks such as milk, soup or fruit juice can help meet your fluid needs.

Fortified Milk

Fortified milk is a cheap and effective way to help you meet your nutritional needs. It is extremely versatile and can be used as a stand-alone drink or added to other foods. Prepare fortified milk as follows:

Directions: Put 4 (57g) heaped tablespoons of skimmed-milk powder into a mixing jug. Gradually pour in 1pt (568mls) of full fat (blue top) milk, whisking well.


  • Ask for help with your shopping or use local delivery options.
  • Use convenience foods such as frozen meals, tinned foods and ready meals.
  • Consider meal delivery companies such as Wiltshire Farm Foods or Oakhouse Foods.

On-going weight loss

  • If you are unable to weigh yourself, be aware of visual signs of your weight decreasing, for example jewellery and clothes becoming looser.
  • If you continue to lose weight seek advice from medical team or request to see a Dietitian.

Helpful hints

  • Eat ‘little and often’ – aim to eat every 2 hrs by having up to 5-6 small frequent meals, snacks or nourishing drinks during the day rather than 1-2 large meals.
  • Try not to have drinks just before meals to avoid feeling too full to eat.
  • Avoid low fat/diet versions of food and drinks for example skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low fat yoghurt, or watery soups (e.g. cup a soup) and go for creamy, milky nourishing alternatives unless been advised not to do so.
  • Choose meals that you enjoy, are easy to prepare, and are high in energy and protein. Fortify these foods where possible.
  • Choose easy to chew, moist foods that are easier to swallow (e.g. casseroles, curries, sauces, gravy, milky puddings, fruit smoothies, ice creams).

More information

Read more about diet and COVID on the Malnutrition Pathway website.

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