Older members of our community are at a greater risk of Covid-19. While no foods or dietary supplements will prevent Covid-19, maintaining a healthy diet is an important part of supporting a strong immune system. If you are ‘cocooning’ or if you are looking after someone who is cocooning these are some simple tips to help maintain a healthy diet during this time:
Little and often
It is a worrying time for everyone and this can sometimes cause a loss of appetite. If you are struggling with poor appetite, it may help to eat smaller portions and more often, as sometimes large meals can be overwhelming. If you are losing weight or you are concerned about your appetite, it is important to ask your GP to refer you to a Community Dietitian.
We normally get most of our vitamin D from the sun however is you are cocooning you are now indoors more than usual. It is recommended that older people take a Vitamin D supplement containing at least 10 micrograms every day.
Getting lots of fluids (water, milk, fruit cordials, juice) every day will prevent dehydration and help your immune system stay healthy. As a general guide, aim for 8 glasses of fluids a day. This includes tea and coffee.
Protein is Important
Getting enough protein in your diet is more important as we get older to help to make new cells and keep your muscles healthy. Your body needs protein at every meal, in fact an older person needs about 30g of protein at each meal compared to younger person who needs about 20g. Good sources of protein include lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, peas, lentils and nuts.
Ask the person who is helping you with your groceries, to leave a litre of milk every second day and try to have half of it daily - on cereal, in teas and coffees, as a drink with snacks and meals and as a dessert- custard or rice pudding. Even better, try to get a milk which has added vitamin D. If you cannot get a fresh supply of milk, dried milk powder, evaporated, or condensed milk are a good standby.
Fruits and vegetables provide lots of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre that we need for a healthy diet. Frozen fruit and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh fruit and vegetables and they will keep longer. Fruit which has been tinned in its own juice and vegetables tinned in water are also good options to have in the house. Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and onions have a relatively long shelf life and are good to include on the shopping list. Wholegrain varieties of bread or rolls can be frozen and used when needed. Wholegrain rice and pasta, cereals, oats and nuts are also great long lasting cupboard staples.
Local authorities in every county have set up community supports to help older people who are cocooning during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Community Response Forums led by the Local Authorities to coordinate and mobilise community supports is playing a fantastic support role to vulnerable populations and communities including older people who are cocooning. These supports include help with shopping for food and the delivery of hot meals. If you need support please make contact with the following Helplines:
· Donegal Helpline: 1800 928 982 or firstname.lastname@example.org
· Sligo Helpline: 1800 292 765 or email@example.com
· Leitrim Helpline: 071 965 0473 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cavan Helpline: 1800 300 404 or email@example.com
· Monaghan Helpline:1800 804 158 or firstname.lastname@example.org