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Eating and drinking during COVID-19

Information for adults in Luton and South Bedfordshire concerned about eating and drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic

The current COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has changed the way many people are living their lives, including eating and drinking habits. Social distancing and shielding measures, as well as the closure of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants has altered many social aspects of our lives. This page offers practical information on how to stay healthy and hydrated. Below are some helpful links and resources to keep you on track.

Eating Well

For general advice regarding nutrition during the COVID -19 pandemic, the British Dietetic Association has a useful FAQs section.

Food Accessibility

Shopping for food and other essentials may be more difficult at this time. Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family and neighbours for support (such as dropping off shopping to your doorstep or online ordering). This resource includes ideas of some good cupboard essentials too. Take advantage of specific supermarket shopping hours and priority home-delivery slots that are allocated to older and vulnerable people. Details can be found on supermarket websites or give them a call to find out what’s available to you.

For Luton residents, Luton Council has a dedicated page with links to local organisations providing support during the Coronavirus pandemic. Please see the ‘Those needing support with food and in financial hardship’ subheading if your require support with food provision.

For Central Bedfordshire residents, Central Bedfordshire Council has a dedicated page, detailing what support and services are offered during this time to help you. Please see the 5. Supporting vulnerable residents section if your require support with food provision.

Meal delivery services can be helpful option and are still operating as usual in Luton and Bedfordshire. The following organisations deliver frozen meals straight to your door:

Concerns about Weight Loss or Lack of Appetite

During the pandemic, social distancing measures may mean we are not eating and drinking as we usually would. This may increase our risk of malnutrition, also known as undernutrition. Malnutrition can negatively impact our health including our; immune system, energy levels, mood, and make it more difficult to recover from illness. Individuals that are most vulnerable to developing more severe symptoms from Covid-19, and who have been advised to follow strict social distancing or shielding guidance, are also at greater risk of malnutrition and frailty. If you are concerned that you or a loved one is at risk of malnutrition, the following advice sheets and resources may be helpful:

 There is a lot of conflicting information about how to optimise your health which can be confusing. Unintentional weight loss due to disease or infection is never good, regardless of someone’s original body weight or body mass index (BMI) (such as those in the ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ category). As older people are more at risk of malnutrition, healthy eating in older age may be different to the general healthy eating guidelines. Some older people may need reassuring of this.

 An easy-to-follow booklet, to support older adults with their nutrition and hydration, can be found here:

Guide to Good Nutrition and Hydration in Older Adults

NB: If you are following a specialist diet for a specific condition such as; kidney disease, liver disease, texture modification for swallowing problems, we would recommend you continue following the specific advice you have been given. If you have concerns with your weight and appetite we would recommend that you contact the dietitian, or relevant health care professional, who has been supporting you with this specialist diet for additional advice.

Monitoring Yourself at Home

It is a good idea to keep an eye on your overall health at home. If you are worried about your weight we recommend that you monitor yourself regularly (such as once a month) to identify any changes. We would recommend weighing yourself on the same day each month and keep a record of your weight to track any changes. The following links can also help you monitor and identify your risk of malnutrition:

These self-screening tools can be a handy way to identify if you, or someone you care for, are at risk of malnutrition.  If you are at risk we recommend you implement the advice in the resources above and seek additional support from your GP or another Heath Care Professional.

Drinking Well

Keeping hydrated is important for optimal health, strength and brain function. We recommend you aim to drink 6 – 8 glasses (approx.   ̴250ml glass) or 1.6 – 2Litres of fluid per day. You may need to drink more in warmer weather or if you are unwell with a high temperature.

All drinks count (such as water, milk, tea, coffee, fresh juice and squash), except alcohol with more than 4% alcohol by volume (ABV). Nourishing drinks and soups also contribute to your daily fluid intake. If you struggle to meet your fluid requirements, try having some fluid-rich foods such as those on our Hydration Boosters resource.

If you do not need to restrict alcohol for medical or social purposes we would always encourage you to drink responsibly and within the Chief Medical Officers' guidelines for both men and women, which states:

  • Not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
  • Spread your drinking evenly over three or more days
  • Have several drink-free days a week

For more detailed guidance on please see the hyperlink for the guidelines above.

Wellbeing during Shielding and Self-isolation

Shielding and self-isolation can be difficult emotionally for many of us. The contacts below may offer some advice and relief from loneliness or if you have any worries:

Total Wellbeing Luton:

Total Wellbeing can support people with a Luton GP to live well by connecting them with activities and people in their local communities. This includes addressing social isolation concerns and support relating to: welfare, housing, financial, shopping needs, emotional health (over 16 years) and exercise programmes. Please note some services may be affected by the pandemic.

You can ask your GP to refer you or you can self-refer:

General Enquiries:   0300 555 4152

info@totalwellbeingluton.org  

https://www.totalwellbeingluton.org/

Central Bedfordshire:

To be confirmed except for:

Residents registered with the Titan Primary Care Network (Houghton Regis Medical Centre, Wheatfield Surgery and Toddington Medical Centre) can access free social prescribing services, which are available to adults experiencing issues affecting their mental health and wellbeing or where poor health is being caused by social isolation, lifestyle or other underlying issues. During the Covid-19 pandemic this may include support with accessing; prescribed medications, support with shopping, food parcels and befriending services. The Social Prescribing service can be accessed through the GP practice.

The Samaritans:

Call (24 hours a day, 365 days a year): 116 123

https://www.samaritans.org/

 

Age UK:

Call (8am-7pm, 365 days a year): 0800 678 1602

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/

 

Silverline:

Call (24 hours a day, 365 days a year):  0800 470 8090

https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/what-we-do/

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