UFRO alimentacion cuarentena 1

The University teacher Gladys Morales Illanes, of the UFRO Department of Public Health, shares information on a healthy diet to cope with quarantine because of COVID-19.

Since the first case of COVID-19 in our country on March 3, many of the routines we were used to have been disrupted. As we have to stay at home, one of the most affected aspects is our diet, leading us to unhealthy habits.

The recommendation for the entire population is to eat healthy, including people affected by COVID-19 with moderate and/or no symptoms. Therefore, it is important to understand what a healthy diet consists of, in order to put it into practice.

For Gladys Morales Illanes, a dietician with a Master's degree in Nutrition and Food with specialization in the Promotion of Health and the Prevention of Nutrition-related Diseases, a healthy diet preferably consists of natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, avocado, olive or canola oil and, in a smaller amount, those of animal origin such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.

A healthy diet also limits the amount of calories, sugar, saturated fat and salt. Therefore, it is important to review the nutritional information on packaged food, in order to compare and choose those products that contain less of these critical elements.


A balanced and healthy diet, as well as the regular consumption of probiotics, contributes to the proper functioning of the body's defenses. Fundamental nutrients are: vitamin A, vitamins of the B complex (B12, B6, folates), vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E, which contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system. Therefore, the adequate intake of these nutrients must be ensured.

“Some studies have shown that several COVID-19 patients suffered from an alteration of the intestinal flora (microbial dysbiosis). It is possible that the consumption of prebiotics or probiotics could prevent further infections. Therefore, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, legumes, nuts, seeds and sugar-free dairy products can help to maintain a healthy intestinal flora and to strengthen the immune system,” Gladys Morales explained.

The university teacher at the Department of Public Health of the Universidad de La Frontera (UFRO) emphasized that “in this time of quarantine, a healthy diet is essential, because it will provide all the nutrients required to maintain the normal functioning of the immune system, to prevent an excess of weight and to control anxiety. For this reason, you should also schedule your meals: plan the menu for each day of the week, try to cook as a family and start trying different dishes that may encourage the whole family to get used to a healthier, more natural and more home-made diet”.


Those foods with a high caloric intake, saturated fats, sugar and/or salt are not recommended for a healthy diet and neither during quarantine, since they may increase the risk of overweight or obesity and other related diseases.

As a general rule, the following foods should be avoided: precooked foods (croquettes, pizza, lasagna, cannelloni, etc.); fast food (French fries, hamburgers, sausages, etc.); sugar, sweets and cakes, sweetened drinks and juices, and alcoholic drinks (including wine or beer).


The dietician Gladys Morales pointed out that senior citizens are a risk group in terms of hydration; the feeling of thirst is decreased and many times they do not want to drink water. Therefore, we recommend the use of sugar-free neutral or flavored jelly, which can be very helpful when it comes to drinking the recommended amount of water, especially when the patient has a fever.

In the weekly menu you should also consider to include some preparations that the elderly like, such as soups made with vegetables, (fat free) meat and fish, as well as herbal infusions and tea.

In case of throat discomfort, fever or appetite loss, the expert recommends to prepare dishes that can be easily swallowed in order to facilitate the ingestion of fruits and vegetables. Mashed vegetables or a cream enriched with olive oil, as well as peeled and diced fruits, can help to increase the appetite for fruit.

For diabetics, it is essential to maintain the diet provided by their nutritionists. Now more than ever they have to maintain a normal glycaemia in order to avoid complications that might force them to go to the emergency room.


With the aim of helping the university community to maintain an adequate diet in times of quarantine, the UFRO dietician makes the following recommendations:

-Stay hydrated. Drink at least 2 liters of water per day. You can also drink herbal teas or water with lemon or orange slices, without adding sugar.
-Eat at least 3 fruits and 2 dishes with vegetables of different colors per day. Remember to include vegetables in your salads, puddings, omelets, soups and stews. Eat fresh fruit at breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack time.
-Prefer whole grain foods instead of processed foods. Remember to consume them on a daily basis, but IN MODERATION to avoid weight gain (wholemeal bread, wholewheat noodles, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, etc.).
-Consume 2-3 portions of low-fat, sugar-free, preferably fermented dairy products. Example: cultured milk, yogurt, kefir, etc.
-Consume meat, fish and eggs in moderation. Prefer white and low-fat meats. It is recommended to grill, stir-fry, bake or stew them using very little fat. Avoid eating sausages, cold cuts and any kind of high-fat meats.
-Eat a portion of dry fruits such as nuts, almonds, peanuts or hazelnuts at least twice a week (1 portion = 1 handful). They are an excellent choice for a healthy snack or to add to salads, as long as they are natural or roasted. Avoid fried, sweetened and salted nuts.
-To cook and season your meals, prefer to use olive oil or canola oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants.
-Consume legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas or peas) AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK, in replacement of meat and without adding sausages. Remember to include them in preparations such as stews, salads and homemade legume burgers.


Written by: UFRO Communications Office