Grantee Blog 2020

Few words on long COVID

First case of COVID-19 in NJ was announced on March 4, 2020. The first COVID-19 vaccine shot in NJ, was given on December 15, 2020. According to latest database only 65.6% of NJ residents have been fully vaccinated and our struggle with virus known as SARS-Cov-2 continues.  Health experts estimate that 10-30% of COVID-19 infection survivors, even those who experienced only mild symptoms, would later suffer from PASC (post-acute sequale of SARS-Cov-2), also known as “Long COVID”. PASC can affect people in many ways, also neurologically and psychologically. Person can experience its symptoms for several months after becoming ill. There can be 203 different symptoms associated with this malady, with more than 55 different symptoms showing in each person affected.  The most frequently reported symptoms after six months since becoming ill, were: fatigue, post-exertional malaise, and cognitive dysfunction. But there can be a wide range of other symptoms such as tremors, itchy skin, sexual dysfunction, heart palpitations, bladder control issues, shingles, hallucinations, memory loss, blurred vision, diarrhea, and tinnitus.

If you are female, who is older, have 5 or more symptoms after first week of being sick with COVID-19, if you have asthma, and if your symptoms are severe enough to warrant possible hospitalization, you might be at higher risk for long COVID.

Recovery from long COVID is gradual and getting back to normal activities slowly, is essential. An attempt to speed the healing process and pushing it too hard might aggravate the symptoms. When searching for medical support, contact your primary physician, who can connect you with a specialists experienced with long COVID or refer you to post-COVID-19 clinics. Lean on others and accept assistance and support from family members and friends.  Lifestyle changes are also recommended. It is important to reduce stress and to maintain regular sleep schedule and to avoid looking at telephone or television screens shortly before bedtime.  Exercise regularly and eat healthy food. Quit smoking and avoid alcohol. It is believed that PASC symptoms can be linked with inflammation, so it is suggested to follow anti-inflammatory diet, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Cut on unhealthy fats and simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour.


It will be easier for you to choose the healthy foods if you plan and follow regular meal schedule, and won’t go too long without a meal. It is easier to reach for a junk food when you are hungry. Always focus on the quality of the food you are eating. Don’t let stress decide for you what and when you will eat. Take breaks during the day, spend time outdoors, walk and exercise. People who don’t get adequate amount of sleep tend to overeat.  Avoid sugary drinks. Always pick healthy snacks.

When snacking, pick foods with lower calorie density, as they have fewer calories per bite. For example, here’s 100 calories’ worth of a dozen snacks. It’s easy to see how you’ll fill up on more food with fresh (not dried) fruits or vegetables because they’re lower in calorie density than most other snacks.

Fruits and vegetables are not only low in calories, but they also are good source of nutrients. They can provide nice supply of potassium, magnesium, and fiber, that many American’s are not getting enough in their diets. Stock your fridge and freezer with long lasting fruits and vegetables: oranges, pineapple, papaya (refrigerate when ripe),melons (refrigerate when ripe), apples (refrigerate when ripe), frozen grapes (a great icy treat), frozen berries, carrot sticks (slice your own from whole carrots, or buy baby-cut or crinkle-cut carrots), raw cauliflower or broccoli florets, sliced celery, or quartered radishes (serve with your favorite dip), frozen edamame (microwave and sprinkle with soy sauce, if you like), jicama (peel, slice into sticks, and splash with lime juice).

Other good (but more perishable) veggie snacks: mini cucumbers, grape or cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers. To give your vegetable snack some kick, pair it with nutritious dips. Below are three simple recipes.

Tahini-Yogurt Dip

In a small bowl, whisk together ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 Tbs. tahini, 2 Tbs. lemon juice, 1 small clove minced garlic, and ½ tsp. kosher salt. Makes 1 cup.

Per serving (2 Tbs.): 90 calories, 9 g total fat, 1 g sat fat, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g total sugar, 0 g added sugar, 3 g protein, 130 mg sodium


With a fork, mash together 2 avocados, ¼ cup minced white onion, ½ cup finely chopped tomato, 2 Tbs. lime juice, 1 minced jalapeño pepper (optional), and ¼ tsp. kosher salt. Makes 2 cups.

Per serving (2 Tbs.): 30 calories, 2.5 g total fat, 0 g sat fat, 2 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g total sugar, 0 g added sugar, 0 g protein, 30 mg sodium


In a food processor, combine 1 cup no-salt-added chickpeas, 2 Tbs. lemon juice, 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbs. tahini, 1 minced clove garlic, and ÂĽ tsp. kosher salt. Process until smooth. Add a sprinkle of paprika for a bit of color and subtle pepper taste (optional). Makes 1 cup.

Per serving (2 Tbs.): 60 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 g sat fat, 6 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g total sugar, 0 g added sugar, 2 g protein, 70 mg sodium

 Yogurt is an excellent snack choice.  You can create delicious snack or dessert with some fresh or frozen fruit and Greek or regular yogurt. Fruit and plain yogurt means no added sugar. You can top the dish with some toasted almonds, walnuts or pecans.

You can eliminate snacks prepared from white flour or refined starch, with savory snacks made with nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes. Always keep some nuts and seeds at home. They are an excellent source of healthy fats, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. Pre-portion nuts or seeds into 1 ounce reusable containers. See below to learn how many nuts are in a 1-oz. serving:

If you feel like having crackers for a snack, go with whole grain option, like Triscuits, which are generally made of shredded wheat with a bit of oil and salt. The size of 120-calorie portion for Triscuit would be more than 6 crackers, 14 crackers if you snack on Thin Crisps or 26 petiteTriscuit Mini. You can use a dip and fresh vegetables with crackers. Roasted whole beans and peas also make an excellent healthy snack.

Distance yourself from all unhealthy snacks. You don’t crave so much for what you don’t see.


About the Grantee

County of Bergen, Division of Senior Services

As the lead agency for Bergen County's Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC), the Bergen County Division of Senior Services helps older adults, individuals with disabilitiesover the age 18, and caregivers access the complex, long term care community-based, health and human services.