Eating Healthy Even When Illness Strikes
in The Too Busy to Diet Blog on July 7, 2022
With cold and flu season (and Covid) upon us, what can we do to eat healthy foods even when we are stricken with an illness? When your body is sick and your immune system is working hard, it needs nutrients more than ever in order to combat the illness.
While you may not feel like eating when you’re sick, it is important to get adequate hydration and calories by drinking and eating smaller portions more often throughout the day. To decrease nausea, drink fluids in between meals and focus on simple, bland foods instead of fried and spicy foods.
So what specific foods should you choose? It can be tricky, especially if you don’t have an appetite or can’t taste anything.
Mild illnesses can usually be taken care of at home with a healthy diet and plenty of rest. But, of course, make sure you see your doctor if your condition worsens or you feel that your at-home care is not enough to relieve your symptoms.
Here are 10 nutritious foods and drinks that may help you to feel better and possibly recover faster:
- Beverages or liquid-based foods
- Simple liquids like water, sports drinks for electrolytes, tea, and juice are good options
- Soft, room-temperature or cold foods like Jell-O, popsicles, pudding, ice cream for ease of eating
- Soups and broths
- Provide fluids to prevent dehydration
- Moist and warm to help relieve congestion
- Vitamins and minerals to avoid deficiencies
- Electrolytes to restore fluid balance
- Calories and protein for energy and to help with healing
- Hot tea or hot chocolate
- Fluid to prevent dehydration
- Sore throat relief
- Polyphenols for anti-inflammatory effects
- Antioxidants and flavonoids for immune system function
- Ginger or peppermint teas may help fight nausea/vomiting
- Cough suppressant
- Soothing for sore throat
- Soft texture for ease of eating
- Warm and soothing for comfort
- Can add fruit or honey
- Potassium for electrolyte stores
- Soluble fiber to help relieve diarrhea
- Carbohydrates for energy
- Soft texture
- Berries and other fruits
- Antioxidants to enhance immune response
- Fiber for gut health
- Probiotics for gut health
- May help with immune function
- Leafy greens
- Provide iron, folate, vitamins C and K
- Contain polyphenols to combat inflammation
- Help to increase immunity
- Great in soups
- Can help relieve nausea
- Ginger hard candy, ginger tea, or ginger ale
Being aware of what you are eating and drinking while you are sick and choosing healthy, balanced, and soothing foods can help your body to fight the infection and get you on the road to recovery.
Cleveland Clinic. (2021). The Best Foods to Eat When You’re Sick. Health Essentials. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-foods-to-eat-when-youre-sick/.
Duyff, R.L. (2017). Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 609, 724.
Jones, T. (2021). The 15 Best Foods to Eat When You’re Sick. Healthline Nutrition. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-best-foods-when-sick.
King, J., & Joyce, M. (2021). Too busy to diet: The Best Nutrition Guide for Busy People. Jacqueline King. 133-137.