COVID Diet: 5 Foods to Eat and 4 Foods to Avoid

It can be difficult to maintain your normal habits when you’re not feeling well, including healthy eating. 

A healthy diet can help prevent you from getting sick but can also help you bounce back from illness sooner.

Keep reading to find out 5 foods to eat when you have covid, and 4 foods you might want to avoid or limit.

What is COVID?

COVID-19 is a type of virus (SARS-CoV-2) introduced worldwide during the COVID 19 pandemic in late 2019 to early 2020. It’s known as a novel virus because it had never been seen in humans before the pandemic.

Coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, talking, laughing, and singing. When you inhale these droplets that contain particles of the COVID-19 virus, you can become ill.

Symptoms usually occur anywhere from 2-14 days after you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. You can be contagious two days before you show your first symptom and up to 14 days after your first symptom.

COVID-19 can cause serious illness and death in certain people, while others might only have minor symptoms. People with an altered immune system, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or other types of chronic disease are at higher risk of more severe COVID 19 symptoms.

COVID-19 is fairly contagious. The best way to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 is to practice good handwashing habits, practice physical distancing, use masks in crowded places, and avoid being near people who are sick.

COVID Symptoms & How They Affect Your Diet

COVID can cause symptoms that impact your eating habits, such as loss of taste and smell. Other symptoms of COVID 19 infection include:

  • Fever or chills

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

If you lose your sense of taste, it can reduce your appetite and lead to unintended weight loss. Taste is a large part of the enjoyment of eating, and your sense of smell plays a large role in your sense of taste.

Nausea and vomiting can also make it difficult to eat like you normally do. If you suffer from shortness of breath, you might have a difficult time eating and drinking because you have to work harder to breathe.

Having a sore throat can also make it hard to eat and drink normally. In general, your appetite will likely take a hit when you don’t feel well.

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Considerations for your diet while you have COVID 

A COVID diet can help support your immune system and body as you fight the infection. There isn’t a specific COVID diet, but there are ways to support your health and immune system when you’re fighting an illness by eating healthy food.

If you’re suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, you can become easily dehydrated. It’s especially important to stay hydrated in these instances. 

Keeping up with your fluid intake helps your body remove waste and toxins from your body, regulate your body temperature, and many more important functions.

You might experience a dip in your appetite when you have COVID. A COVID diet should consist of nutrient-dense foods that are easy to eat when you’re not feeling well. 

For instance, a salad probably isn’t the best food to choose when you don’t have an appetite since it’s low in calories and takes a long time to eat, so you’ll likely lose interest before you can finish it. 

On the other hand, a smoothie made with whole milk yogurt packs more calories and nutrition and is easier to sip on when you have a sore throat or are nauseous. 

5 Best Foods To Eat When You Have COVID

A COVID diet is not much different than a regular healthy diet, such as a Mediterranean diet. This diet incorporates nutrient-dense foods that provide important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that support your health and immune system.

1. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps support your immune system. Citrus fruits are also rich in water which help keep you hydrated.

2. Other fruits and vegetables

You can never go wrong eating plant foods like fruits and vegetables, and that includes a COVID diet. 

Fruits and vegetables are hydrating and provide important vitamins and antioxidants to fight inflammation and support your health. 

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is rich in probiotics which play an important role in your immune system by supporting your gut microbiota. Yogurt is usually fortified with vitamin D, which helps immune health as well.

4. Nut butter

Nut butter like peanut butter and almond butter is packed with protein and calories. Its caloric density makes it easier to meet your energy needs when you don’t feel up to eating a large volume of food. 

5. Protein-rich foods

Protein helps support your immune system. Without enough protein, your immune system can’t build the proteins it needs to fight off viruses, like COVID.

Protein is found in meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Whole grains also contain more protein than refined grains.

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4 Foods To Avoid If You Have Covid 

1. Alcohol

Alcohol can weaken your body’s ability to fight off infections, so you should avoid it on a COVID diet.

2. Caffeine

While a small amount of caffeine is fine, large amounts of caffeine can make it harder for your immune system to work properly. 

Taking in high amounts of caffeine can also be dehydrating, which isn’t beneficial when your body is fighting an illness.

3. High-sugar foods

Try to avoid eating a diet high in sweets and added sugar while you’re recovering from COVID. Foods high in refined sugar can suppress your immune system. 

If you have diabetes, blood sugar spikes can make it harder for your body to recover when you’re sick.

Processed food is a hidden source of added sugar, so check the nutrition facts and ingredient label to ensure you’re choosing low-sugar foods.

4. Greasy foods

If you’re suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms, greasy foods can make them worse. Try to avoid fried food on a COVID diet, which can cause heartburn if you’re laying down resting and not staying upright during digestion.


A COVID diet is rich in nutrient-dense foods to help support your health and immune system. Focusing on nutrient-rich foods and staying hydrated can help make you more comfortable as your body fights off illnesses like COVID.

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  1. Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011. 
  2. Rajaie S, Ebrahimpour-Koujan S, Hassanzadeh Keshteli A, Esmaillzadeh A, Saneei P, Daghaghzadeh H, Feinle-Bisset C, Adibi P. Spicy Food Consumption and Risk of Uninvestigated Heartburn in Isfahani Adults. Dig Dis. 2020. 

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