What Should I Eat When Im Sick? The last thing anyone wants to do when they’re sick is to spend time cooking. While it’s not the most enjoyable thing in the world, eating the right foods can help you feel better faster. What should i eat when i am sick? These tips will help you nourish your body while curing your cold or flu. his article will help guide you through exactly what you should be eating if you’re sick and trying to speed up your recovery process.
What should you eat when you are sick?
When a person is sick, they may find it difficult to develop an appetite. However, it is important to receive nourishment and stay hydrated, especially when feeling unwell.
Different types of food can combat different types of illness. A person with a sore throat may benefit from foods that would not help someone who feels nauseous.
In this article, we provide a list of foods to eat and avoid for people with common illnesses.
Colds and flu
A blocked nose, a cough, and a sore throat are common symptoms of colds and flu. The following foods can help to ease congestion and inflammation and boost the immune system.
1. Herbal teas
When experiencing cold and flu symptoms, it is important to stay hydrated. Herbal teas are refreshing, and breathing in their steam can help to clear mucus from the sinuses.
Adding ground turmeric to a cup of hot water may help to relieve a sore throat. Research suggests that turmeric has both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
Tea leaves are abundant in natural plant compounds, such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins. These stimulate the immune system. Catechins, in particular, may protect against certain types of influenza virus.
Some people recommend drinking Echinacea tea to shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms. However, this effect has yet to be proven by scientific research.
A sore throat can be caused by a bacterial infection. Honey is rich in antimicrobials that help to clear these types of infection.
Honey may also be effective in treating children’s coughs, though it should not be given to infants under 12 months of age.
A review published in 2018 compared honey with common over-the-counter children’s cough remedies, a placebo, and no treatment.
The authors found that honey appeared to be more effective than diphenhydramine and salbutamol, which are drugs often used in cough medicines. Honey also produced similar results as dextromethorphan, another common ingredient.
The results were limited, however, as most studies in the review only looked at 1-night acute coughs.
3. Citrus fruits and berries
Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, contain high levels of flavonoids and vitamin C. These decrease inflammation and boost immunity, which may help to fight a fever.
Some studies suggest that a flavonoid called quercetin, which is also found in berries, may help to treat rhinovirus infections. This virus is responsible for the majority of common colds.
Frozen, slushy fruit juices can often help to soothe a sore throat.
Foods to eat when sick
Dunn says that when you think about what foods to eat when you’re sick, think about it as three basic categories:
- What to eat or drink when you’re dehydrated (or to avoid becoming dehydrated).
- What to eat or drink when your gut is sick (like diarrhea).
- What to eat or drink when you feel nauseous (or have a stomachache).
What to eat when you’re dehydrated
When you’re sick and don’t feel well, you might not have an appetite or you might feel like you can’t keep anything down. But if you’re not eating or drinking, dehydration can quickly set in.
“Oftentimes when we’re sick and don’t feel good, dehydration is a big part of it,” explains Dunn. “It might be because you’re throwing up or running to the bathroom every five minutes. Or you might feel so sick that you just don’t have an appetite.”
But dehydration is one of the biggest reasons why people end up in the emergency room when they’re sick.
You might be so dehydrated that you can’t walk or you pass out and hit your head. Moderate to severe dehydration needs quick medical attention. If left untreated, dehydration can cause urinary or kidney problems, seizures and can even be life-threatening.
Here’s what to eat and drink when you’re dehydrated or to avoid becoming dehydrated:
- Beverages. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot, cold or room temperature – any type of liquid is going to help combat dehydration. Just try to sip liquids steadily throughout the day. Aim for water, electrolyte or sports drinks, coffee, teas, juice, soda or carbonated water.
- Soup. There’s a reason that chicken noodle soup is most people’s go-to when they don’t feel well. It’s typically more filling than plain water since it contains more calories, protein and vitamins. It’s also a good source of liquids and electrolytes. But if this traditional soup doesn’t sound appealing to you, try out other types of soups and broths for additional calories and hydration. Plus, soup in general can act as a natural decongestion when served hot.
- Foods that are mainly liquid. If you’re having a hard time drinking fluids, aim for foods that are mainly liquid, but served cold or frozen. Try foods like ice cream, popsicles, Jell-O and pudding.
- Fruit. Fresh fruit contains many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs – even when you’re not sick! Eating fruit when you’re feeling under the weather can provide a nutrient boost, as well as hydration. Aim for juicy fruits that are made up of mostly water, like melons, berries, oranges and grapes.
What to eat when your gut is sick
Diarrhea is when food is moving too quickly through your body. You’ll want to focus on eating foods that can slow that process down, which means choosing foods that contain soluble fiber. This type of fiber acts as a thickening agent and adds form to the stool to help slow it down.
Dunn says that when your gut is sick, you’ll want to avoid or limit caffeine and sugar alcohols. Caffeine can overstimulate your digestive system and make diarrhea worse. Sugar alcohols don’t get absorbed in the gut and instead hang out in your large intestine, which can lead to bloating, stomach pain and more diarrhea.
Here’s what to eat and drink when your gut is sick:
- Anything on the BRAT diet. Mom was right. Eat a diet that follows the acronym, BRAT – bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Most people suffering from diarrhea can tolerate a few of these simple foods.
- Bland foods. Although not super exciting, very plain and bland foods can help ease symptoms. Try pasta, dry cereals, oatmeal, bread and crackers. But bland doesn’t mean you can’t add protein or veggies into the mix if you’re feeling up for it! Try eating rice and baked chicken breast or cheese and crackers.
- Some fruits and vegetables. Try to add in boiled or baked potatoes, winter squash, baked apples, applesauce or bananas.
What to eat when you’re nauseous or have a stomachache
From the stomach flu, to food poisoning, to pregnancy – feeling nauseated can derail your entire day. And nausea can run the full spectrum, from vomiting, to feeling an overall sense of queasiness, to dry heaving.
“When you’re feeling nauseous or have a stomachache, you should really try to eat every couple of hours,” says Dunn. “Eating small amounts more frequently can help get a little food at a time into your system.”
Here’s what to eat and drink when you’re nauseous:
- Ginger. This spice is well-known for its anti-nausea effects. Try ginger snaps, ginger ale, ginger tea or sucking on a few pieces of ginger candy. You can even try crystallized ginger, which is more soft and chewy and lightly coated in sugar.
- Dry foods. Try nibbling on a few pieces of dry foods every couple of hours when you’re battling nausea. Try pretzels, dry cereal, toast or plain crackers like saltines.
- Cold foods & foods with little odor. Because smells can trigger nausea (especially in pregnancy), cold foods might be a good choice. Try Jell-O, ice cream, frozen fruit, yogurt or popsicles. Even sucking on an ice cube is a good way to replenish fluids.
What Helps When It’s Hard to Eat
When you don’t feel well, good nutrition is more important than ever. Still, you might not want to eat if you get nauseated or it hurts to chew. Your appetite might be down for other reasons, like depression or a treatment side effect. With many of these problems, you have solutions. In some cases, like with nausea from chemotherapy, medicines can help. There are also food strategies that are good to try.
When Bland Is Best
With some conditions — or their treatments — you can’t keep food down because you get nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Stick to bland foods like crackers, toast, potatoes, noodles, and rice.
- Try eating very small meals, 6-8 a day.
- You may be able to tolerate foods that contain a lot of water, like frozen pops, Jell-O, and broth-based soups.
Once you’ve eaten, don’t lay down, because that can make your nausea worse. Sit up as you allow your food to digest.
Chew Some Gum
Some medications make your mouth dry. That can cause problems when you chew or swallow. Chemotherapy, nerve damage, and some diseases can also cause dry mouth.
What to try:
- Sugarless gum and hard candies can help you make saliva.
- Sip water or sugar-free, alcohol-free drinks.
- Avoid caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol, which can make your mouth even more dry.
Does your mouth or jaw hurt, or do you have problems with your teeth or dentures?
- Meat is especially hard to chew, so serve ground or shredded dishes rather than cuts of steak or pieces of poultry.
- Make soup with soft or pureed vegetables, canned fruit like peaches, baked apples or applesauce, and mashed bananas.
- Make an appointment with your dentist to see if you need to get your dentures refitted.
Smoothies and milkshakes work well if you have trouble chewing or swallowing. Pudding, custard, sorbet, and frozen yogurt are other options.
To add more calories, swirl in a few tablespoons of coconut milk to shakes and smoothies. If you’ve lost too much weight and need to eat more often, these drinks make good snacks.
You can lose your sense of taste as a result of medication, radiation therapy, a head injury, an upper respiratory or middle ear infection, dental problems, or surgery on your ear, nose, or throat.
Try this: Make your food look great. Feature foods with a variety of colors and textures. Take dishes like casseroles, which combine a lot of flavors, off the menu, though.
Ask for Help
Emotions can also play a role. With depression, some people lose interest in eating. And anxiety can upset your stomach.
- For a week, write down what you eat and drink. Also note your mood.
- Tell your doctor or a counselor how you feel so you can start treatment.
Nutrition may help you recover. For example, some research shows that folic acid supplements can help antidepressant medications work better.
Add Some Spice
If your sense of taste is off due to a condition, food is just not appetizing. You might lose interest or be tempted to put more salt or sugar in a dish.
- Use herbs and spices to add flavor without a lot of fat, sugar, or salt.
- Top bland vegetables with a little cheese, soy sauce, or some toasted nuts.
Think Itty-Bitty Bites
This is one of the simplest solutions to try when it’s hard to swallow or chew food.
- Cut your food into small pieces so there’s less to chew.
- Don’t eat anything hard, crunchy, spicy, sour, or too salty. Any of these foods could hurt your mouth.