I’ve tweeted a couple of times about how seriously shifting our diet how been helping my husband in his recovery from long covid, and I mentioned it in my last post.
Each time, someone’s asked for more information so I’ve shared tweet-sized snippets of what we’ve been doing. But this is possibly the one article I could write that could really, really help a lot of people. I hope it does.
I have no medical background, have undertaken no research (erm… except maybe secondary research… but not necessarily in a scientific way) and have a sample size of one from which I am basing this. What I’m saying is that you should use your judgement before following any of the suggestions in this article.
However, you will see that these things are pretty sensible and logical. I’m not selling anything. I’m just hoping this could help you like it helped us.
In case you missed it, we were both ill at the start of the year, my husband in the first week of March and I in the second week. Though my husband had coughed for a couple of hours one morning, I’d had no cough, nor had either of us had a temperature.
Fast forward 2 weeks, my husband has been knocked off his feet again. By this time, coronavirus is way more prevalent, but no cough or temperature so we presume it’s some other type of cold or flu bug.
But he doesn’t get better. He suffers other things. Palpitations, abdominal throbbing, back pain, tinnitus, and a long list of other things. We’ve seen nothing of any long covid experiences at this point and didn’t even consider there could be a link. But a battery of tests, ruling out things from brain tumours to adrenal cancer to heart failure. Everything looks perfect. But he feels anything but.
By this point, the GPs are giving up. They’ve done everything they can think of. He still can’t access his private healthcare because resources have been (understandably) switched to looking after NHS cancer patients or have closed down due to the pandemic. It’s starting to get pretty. damn. lonely.
And so, we turn to twitter and to Dr Google. And we start finding stories of people who had coronavirus and now have similar symptoms to my husband. And things click into place.
The diet that seems to be helping
We have sought desperately for anything we could do to help this agonisingly slow recovery. And discovered an article with case studies boasting miraculous recoveries for cancer and stroke victims (I’m sorry- I can’t find the article anymore) after flooding their systems with nutrients by consuming loads and loads of fruit and veg. We figured it was worth a shot.
Here are some of the key aspects of the diet that my husband has been following. After 3 weeks he saw a real improvement. We are now on week 8 of this diet and it has been over 3 weeks since he experience a post viral fatigue relapse.
- Caffeine has been removed entirely, after it was giving him adrenaline rushes and making heart palpitations worse.
- Refined sugar consumption has been massively reduced, although he occasionally has treats
- Meat, dairy, carbohydrates and loads of fruit and veg every day. This is about a real variety of nutrients from a variety of sources
- A minimum of 7 portions of fruit and veg every day, with as much variety as possible
- Keeping a food diary helps you keep track of your portions of fruit and veg
Depending on your starting point, you may need to make changes slowly to give yourself time to adapt.
15 fruits and veg in a day
The best day so far has been 15 in a day, although 8 or 9 is the norm.
So what on earth does 15 fruits and vegetables in a day look like?
Well, it looked like this:
Breakfast: Cereal, raisins (not counted as this is only a sprinkle), plum and smoothie (smoothie is counted as one)
Snack: Fruit medley including grapes, kiwi, plum (not counted a second time) and yoghurt with a sprinkle of muesli
Lunch: Salad with avocado, pepper, lettuce, tomato, cucumber alongside a pouch of microwavable rice, followed by half a grapefruit, and blackberries.
Dinner: Sausage and mash with green beans and carrots
Supper: Passion fruit, apricot, and blueberry buckle (not counted as this is a cake dessert)
Another example- 13 fruits & veg in a day
Here’s what he ate on the day he managed 13 fruits and veg in a day:
Breakfast: Cereal and raisins (not counted again as only a sprinkling)
Snack: Plum, kiwi, satsuma, apricots and smoothie
Lunch: Pasta with tomato based sauce, banana and pineapple
Snack: Nakd bar (these are snack bars made of dried fruit and nuts)
Dinner: A lazy, random concoction of chicken nuggets, potato croquettes, caulifower, broccoli and green beens
Supper: Passion fruit
Some general tips to make it easier
Honestly, it is hard to prep, plan and eat this healthily all the time. It’s worth it, but it’s honestly hard.
We try to make it easier where we can:
- Frozen vegetables are an easy way of doing this. Our freezer always has frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans. We often have mixed mediterranean veg (peppers, courgette and aubergine) or brussel sprouts too.
- Tinned vegetables are another easy way to add veg, such as carrots, peas, sweetcorn, and tomatoes, as well as tinned fruits.
- Dried fruit, such as dates, cranberries and raisins alongside a mixture of nuts feels like more of a treat than, say, a banana and is pretty quick to put together
- Embrace weird. We have served broccoli and cauliflower up alongside some bizarre, lazier meals for the sole purpose of boosting our nutrient intake.
- Mixed fruit with yoghurt and muesli is a bit of a pain to prep but quite a luxurious treat
- Fruit juice, smoothies and fruit bars (such as Nakd, but maybe there are others) are easy ways to add more nutrients. Although drinks can only contribute one portion to your overall total.
- Load up slow cooker/ pressure cooker meals with veg. Bolognese and casseroles are excellent hosts for a whole range of extra vegetables like courgettes, green beans, peppers and carrots.
- Choose healthy ready meals, where you use them, that contribute at least one, if not two, of your vegetable portions per day.
Whatever your reason for changing your diet, whether it’s to help in your recovery against long covid or for some other reason, good luck. If you are suffering from long covid, I hope this post gives you a little bit of hope and I hope you see faster improvements to your recovery. We are 27 weeks following the date we think my husband got Covid and it is a time consuming process that feels lonely, frustrating and oftentimes, completely hopeless. But you are not alone and I don’t believe all this is hopeless. Good luck.