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Caring and Nourishing a loved one at home with the Coronavirus

Caring for a loved one or a friend who has the COVID-19 coronavirus at home will most likely feel challenging, and for some, even overwhelming. You might want to have these items on hand and here are some recipes to help you prepare meals to help nourish and hydrate someone who is ill.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of coronavirus can include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some people affected with the virus may also be experiencing a loss of smell and taste, nausea, and diarrhea. Having these symptoms can make eating a challenge. Increased sweating from a fever and the loss of body fluids and electrolytes can lead to dehydration. Having diarrhea can make dehydration worse. The CDC advises caregivers make sure that the person who is ill is resting and is drinking plenty of fluids while recovering.

So, what can you prepare at home to help hydrate and nourish your loved one? The following recipes include drinks that are known as oral rehydration solutions that are “isotonic,” meaning these drinks are the same strength or concentration of the fluid in the blood, plasma and intestines. By being isotonic, these fluids will help to keep your loved one hydrated.

Soft drinks, some sports drinks, sweetened beverages and fluids containing caffeine can contribute to additional fluid losses and should be avoided. Instead, consider using these isotonic recipes as an option. Encourage your loved one to sip on 8 cups or 2 liters of fluid each day, at least half being isotonic beverages. Also included are recipes that are easy on the stomach and easy to tolerate.

Before getting started, please be sure to wash your hands and have your kitchen counter-tops and surfaces clean!

Orange Rehydration Drink

1 liter (4 cups) of water

1 cup of orange juice

8 teaspoons of sugar

¼ teaspoons of baking soda

½ teaspoon of salt

Combine and stir until well mixed and dissolved. Best if chilled. Discard after 24 hours.

Isotonic Grape, Apple, or Cranberry Juice Drink

¾ cups of juice

3 ¼ cups of water

¾ teaspoons of salt

Combine and stir until well mixed and dissolved. Discard after 24 hours.

Isotonic Gatorade/Powerade Drink

1 ½ cups Gatorade or Powerade

2 ½ cups water

¾ teaspoon table salt

Combine and stir until well mixed and dissolved. Discard after 24 hours.


Congee is a soft, soupy rice dish that can help when a person has upset stomach, and diarrhea.

6 cups of chicken broth (homemade or store-bought)

2/3 cup of white rice of any kind such as long grain, basmati, or jasmine


1 teaspoon of soy sauce or tamari

Grated ginger or a dash of ginger powder

Directions: In a stockpot, combine ginger, broth, and soy sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the rice, stirring to combine. Simmer on low for 1 to 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the rice is very tender and much of the broth has been absorbed and the soup has thickened.

If you want to add an easy-to-digest protein try adding eggs. Just before serving, beat two eggs in a small bowl and then drizzle them into the simmering broth to combine. The egg will cook quickly into fine threads.

Foods and Drinks that are Easy on the Stomach

Pretzels, plain crackers, oyster crackers, rice crackers

Plain cold cereals like corn or rice Chex, Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Kix

Refined or instant hot cereals like Cream of Wheat or Cream of Rice

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White bread or English muffin

Noodles, pasta — plain

White rice

Potatoes, without skins, boiled or baked

Applesauce, canned fruits such as peaches and pears

Custard, pudding


Cheese, soft or semi soft like cottage cheese, cream cheese, and mozzarella cheese sticks

Cheese, hard, mild types like cheddar, Colby, jack or American

Creamy nut butters


Clear Liquids


Sherbet, popsicles

Clear juices — apple, grape, pulp-free orange juice, cranberry, cran-grape, cran-apple

Broth or bouillon — chicken, beef, vegetable

Weak tea — herbal or decaffeinated

The CDC has other tips on how to care for someone who is sick with the COVID-19 virus at the website.

Written by Barbara Grant, MS RDN CSO