What Foods Should You Bring to Someone with Coronavirus?

We reached out to a doctor and a registered dietitian to help us understand.

groceries on doorstep
Photo: Getty Images / jordachelr

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, odds are high that you know someone who has tested positive. Whether it's a family member, colleague or friend, the coronavirus has impacted millions of Americans. And while it can be frustrating to watch a loved one go through the illness, there are safe ways to support them, one of which is bringing them meals or groceries.

While we know it is safe to bring food to people, you might not be sure about what kind to bring them. We reached out to Kierstin Kennedy, M.D., chief of hospital medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Ginger Hultin, M.S., RDN. a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to learn more about the kinds of foods you should bring someone with COVID-19.

When You Bring Someone Food

When dropping off food, it's important that both you and the sick party take the appropriate precautions. According to Kennedy, this includes both parties wearing a mask properly (which is what the CDC recommends as well). Kennedy says, "The ideal scenario would be to leave the food on the doorstep," but one should also "try to maintain 6 feet distance or, at a minimum, limit the time spent in close proximity."

Before and after you bring someone food, make sure to wash your hands properly.

What Kind of Food Should You Bring?

While scientists and doctors are still learning about the coronavirus, there is no conclusive research about the kinds of vitamins and other nutrients a person with COVID-19 should be looking to add to their diet. However, both Kennedy and Hultin say there are foods that can help ease the symptoms of COVID-19.

If Symptoms Include Body Aches or Fatigue

When your body is trying to fight fatigue or body aches, which may be related to dehydration, Kennedy says, "Fluids [like broths] can be very helpful." She emphasizes that it is important to stay hydrated when fighting a viral illness like coronavirus.

For recipe inspiration, check out our Spring Green Soup with Chicken or our Vegetarian Udon Noodle Soup.

If Symptoms Include Inflammation

According to Hultin, "COVID-19 causes a lot of inflammation in the body as part of the natural healing process." So she suggests eating foods that can help reduce inflammation, including ingredients like lentils, beans, whole grains, fruits and veggies. As a bonus to their inflammation-reducing properties, she says, "they also have a lot of vitamins and minerals that the body needs for healing as well."

For recipe inspiration, check out our Roasted Root Veggies & Greens over Spiced Lentils or our Chicken & Vegetable Penne with Parsley-Walnut Pesto.

If Symptoms Include Loss of Smell and/or Taste

Some people may experience symptoms that include a lost sense of smell or taste. For those people, Hultin suggests making food that has stronger flavors and contains more herbs and spices. Basically, you should amp up the flavor to increase the chances they'll be able to taste it.

For recipe inspiration, check out our Basil Pesto Pasta with Grilled Vegetables or our Chipotle Chicken & Vegetable Soup.

The Bottom Line

While symptoms may vary, Hultin recommends choosing foods that fit the symptoms the person has. And whether you're sick or not, Hultin and Kennedy have similar advice for building a healthy immune system in general. Kennedy suggests avoiding processed or fast foods and focusing more on ingredients that are high in antioxidants. Hultin echoes the call for antioxidants and further suggests eating plant-based proteins and high-fiber, complex carbohydrates from whole grains.

Although you can't change the fact that a loved one has tested positive, bringing them food is a simple way to make their day a little easier. Make sure you take the proper precautions when dropping off food and always wear a mask.

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