Healthy eating during coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions

Eating well can help you stay healthy and avoid illness. Focus on choosing and enjoying a wide variety of foods from the 5 food groups every day. Healthy eating can boost your quality of life and reduce the risk of infections and diet-related chronic diseases.

Healthy eating during COVID-19 restrictions

There are many ways for Australians to choose foods that promote their health and wellbeing. The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide recommendations for healthy eating that are realistic and practical.  Most importantly, the recommendations are based on the best available scientific evidence.

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating covers the 5 food groups and the recommended amounts you should eat every day. These include:

  • plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
  • fruit
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
  • lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
  • milk yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives

Health eating habits include:

  • being physically active and choosing amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs
  • enjoying a wide variety of nutritious foods
  • drinking plenty of water
  • limiting intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt and added sugars such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other sugary or savoury snacks
  • limiting intake of alcohol
  • caring for your food — preparing and storing it safely

Coronavirus and food safety

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease spreading from person to person. It is not a foodborne disease. There’s no evidence to suggest people will get infected by swallowing the virus in, or on, food or drink. However, it is always a good idea to practise safe handling and preparation of food. When preparing and storing your food:

  • maintain good hygiene practices
  • wash fresh fruit and vegetables under running water before eating
  • avoid preparing food for other people if you have symptoms of respiratory illness

Businesses need to follow any social distancing requirements outlined by the Australian and New Zealand Governments.

For more information visit Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

During COVID-19, it is important to be aware of false and misleading advertising and claims about particular food products preventing or curing COVID-19. If you are suspicious of claims being made about a food product, including those advertised as preventing or curing COVID-19, you can contact the relevant food enforcement agency in your state or territory.

Grocery shopping

Unless you are required to isolate, you can still go out to shop for food. Just make sure you’re following physical distancing requirements.

Some extra things you can do to stay safe while shopping include:

  • using a list so your visit is short and you don’t need to go out again to purchase forgotten items
  • choosing a time when fewer people are likely to be there
  • wiping down your shopping trolley or basket with hand sanitiser or disinfectant — many supermarkets are providing these items for customers to use before entering the store
  • using cards instead of cash
  • washing your hands or using hand sanitiser after leaving the store

Some things you can do to make food last longer, so you make fewer trips to the supermarket, include:

  • buying food items that keep their nutritional value while stored or frozen. Frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables are picked while at their best and can be a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. Look for tinned fruit in natural juice, rather than syrup.
  • using cuts of meat, or beans and legumes that are suitable for stews and curries. This can often provide more than one meal as leftovers can be frozen.

Shopping online and having your order delivered, contact free, is a handy way to stock up your fridge and pantry without leaving the house. Check with your supermarket to see if this service is available in your area.

Assistance with grocery shopping and meals is available for older people who may need support.

Meal planning

Planning ahead means fewer visits to the shops. You can use a meal planner to plan an entire week’s meals and create a shopping list.

Make extra servings of meals like soups, curries and stews and freeze them to use later. Having some extra meals in the freezer is handy for days when you don’t feel like cooking or you’re unwell.

You could try a meal kit delivery service such as Hello Fresh, Dinnerly, Marley Spoon or others. Check what’s available in your area to see what each service offers and what options suit your budget.

Involve the family

This is a good time to involve everyone in your household in their nutrition.

Get your kids involved with:

  • planning meals
  • making shopping lists
  • preparing meals
  • cleaning up

Older household members can take turns to prepare meals.

Dig out some favourite recipes or be more adventurous and try different cuisines.

Motivation and support

It can be hard to stay motivated to eat well in difficult times.

Learning more about nutrition can help you stay on track. Find out more about healthy eating from:

You might also like to find out more about Health Star Ratings.

    Related information

    It’s important to care for your physical and mental health in difficult times. See our advice on:

    Staying informed

    To stay up to date on COVID-19:

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    Last updated: 
    22 May 2020

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