Nutrition Advice During COVID-19

By Kathy Killian-Harmon, LMFT, Mental Health and Wellness Counselor at RVUCOM-SU

During this time of uncertainty, it is imperative that we do our best to take care of ourselves, especially with proper nutrition and hydration. People who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier: they have stronger immune systems and a lower risk of infectious diseases. It is recommended to eat at a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods every day to obtain the antioxidants your body needs, as well as staying hydrated and avoiding sugar, fat and salt to lower the risk of disease.

Eating fresh, unprocessed foods every day:

Foods considered to be unprocessed are fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. It is recommended to eat two cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily. Do not overcook fruits and vegetables as this can lead to the loss of important vitamins.

Drink enough water every day:

Water is a necessary part of life. It carries nutrients in the blood, regulates your body temperature and gets rid of waste. Another important aspect of water is that it lubricates and cushions your joints. It is recommended to drink eight to ten cups of water daily and be careful not to consume too much caffeine.

Eat moderate amounts of fat and oil:

Choosing the right fat and oil can be tricky. It is better to consume unsaturated fats – fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, and canola – rather than saturated fats – fatty meat, butter, cream, cheese, or lard.

For meats, choose white meat instead of red. Also, avoid processed meats due to their fat and salt content. Avoid trans fats that are usually found in processed food, fast food, snacks, fried foods, frozen pizzas, pies, margarines and spreads.

Consume less salt and sugar:

Limit the amount of salt and high sodium, like what is found is soy sauce and fish sauce. Avoid foods that are high in salt and sugar. Drinks that are high in sugar such as fruit juices and yogurt drinks, along with soft drinks, are best limited. Instead, choose fresh fruits.

Avoid eating out:

By eating at home, you reduce contact with other people and lower your chances of being exposed to COVID-19. This is especially important for people who are coughing and sneezing. In a restaurant setting (and even with pick up and curbside), it is difficult to adhere to recommended social distancing guidelines of six to ten feet. With so many people coming and going, you cannot tell if hands are being washed regularly enough, and if surfaces are being cleaned and disinfected fast enough.

Counseling and psychosocial support:

While proper nutrition and hydration will improve your immunity, they are not magic bullets. In a time of crisis and uncertainty, people may need support with their mental health and diet to ensure they keep in good health. Please seek out counseling from health care professionals. At RVU, there is counseling available through both campuses. You can contact Karen Robinson in Colorado at krobinson@rvu.edu or (720) 875-2896, and Kathy Killian-Harmon in Southern Utah at kkharmon@rvu.edu or (435) 222-1257.

A healthy recipe to try out: Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced thin (about 1 ½ large carrots)
  • 1 cup celery, sliced thin (about 2 stalks)
  • 1 cup sweet Vidalia or yellow onion, peeled and diced small (about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 64 oz (8 cups) of low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if desired
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon of dried thyme)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp pepper, or to taste
  • 12 oz wide egg noodles (or your favorite noodles or pasta)
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (use store bought rotisserie chicken to save time, or roast/cook your own chicken in a skillet)
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, optional
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. To a large Dutch oven or stockpot, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat to warm
  2. Add the carrots, celery, onion and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir intermittently.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to boil gently for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender. Note: If you like brothier soup, add additional broth, as much as an additional 64 oz because, as time passes, the noodles will continue to absorb broth.
  5. Add the egg noodles and boil mixture for about 10 minutes, or until noodles are soft and cooked through. At any time while make the soup, if the overall liquid level is lower than you like and you prefer more broth, adding a cup or two of water is okay. At the end, you will adjust the salt level.
  6. Add the chicken, parsley, optional lemon juice (brightens up the flavor), and boil 1 to 2 minutes, or until chicken is warmed through. Taste soup and add salt to taste. I added about 1 tbsp., but this will vary based on how salty the brand of chicken broth used is, how salty the rotisserie chicken is, and personal preference. Make any necessary seasoning adjustments (i.e. more salt, pepper, herbs, etc.), remove the bay leaves, and serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight in the fridge for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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