Tips for Eating Healthy When Sick
Simmering somewhere in a big bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup swirls the answer to the adage, “Feed a cold. Starve a fever.” Sayings handed down generationally are rarely questioned. We follow the advice and accept the idea as ancient fact.
This “truth” about starving a fever is based on reasoning from the Middle Ages. At that time, people categorized illness into two categories:
- Those caused by low body temperatures
- Those caused by high body temperatures
The illnesses known as a "cold", a low body temperature, needed to be fueled, so eating was recommended. In contrast, hot illnesses like a fever would require fasting to deprive the body of fuel and stop a person's temperature from rising.
Modern science and years of research show us the folly of that ancient thought process. The remedies for both cold and flu season are in fact the same. Doctors now tell us to get plenty of rest and provide proper nutrition and hydration to your body anytime you feel run down.
Although you may not want to eat while sick, your body needs energy. So, eating healthy foods and drinking lots of fluids are the best ways to help fight off infection and illness. Plus, there's no rule against it tasting delicious too!
How is that possible, you might ask? Well, classic foods become staples to help ease symptoms because they are tried and true! Many have the power of unclogging airways, lessening mucous, and improving how you feel as you kick a cold or flu. Below is a list of the top foods to incorporate in your diet when sick.
Science shows warm fluids can help with congestion, and chicken soup is on the top of the list. Whether it’s homemade or from a can, the broth seems to have healing powers. The best part is that it's multipurpose. Since it is mostly broth, it provides the hydration needed when under you're under the weather. It also contains antiviral and anti-inflammatory capabilities though.
Build vegetables into all meals to help your body consume the nutrition it needs to boost immunity. The vitamins and minerals found in veggie-packed meal plans can support your health while sick. Keep up the healthy eating after and your body might be better prepared to fight off germs the next time you come into contact with an illness.
Your body needs the mineral zinc to fight illness. In fact, this is a mineral commonly found in many over the counter cold medicines. The best forms of zinc can be found in meat, poultry, eggs, breakfast cereal, almonds, and cheddar cheese. You can also find it in yogurt which is a fermented food that provides probiotics to your diet!
Any citrus fruit is a go-to while sick due to the high level of Vitamin C found in these foods. Also munch on bell and chili peppers, strawberries, potatoes, and dark green vegetables to boost the amount of Vitamin C your body ingests while fighting a cold or flu.
Obviously, honey tastes delicious and mixes perfectly with hot drinks like tea. However, honey also microbial and antibacterial properties that are perfect for soothing a sore throat.
Perhaps the most well-known home remedy from nausea, ginger is a perfect additive to food and drinks (hot or cold) to help calm your upset stomach.
You probably noticed that many of the recommendations listed above are bland foods. It's important to continue to eat and get all the necessary nutrition when you feel sick, but you also want to be careful and eat foods that won't upset your stomach any more than it already is. Consequently, foods high in basic vitamins and minerals are always a plus.
Above all else, focus on staying hydrated while sick even if you just have a common cold. Keep water handy and within reach. If water gets boring, add flavor with slices of oranges, lemons, or limes. You can even try coconut water if you need to replenish your electrolytes!
There is no discriminating. All liquids count when battling an illness, including tea, apple juice, ginger ale, and even popsicles. Hot tea specifically is a great remedy for all kinds of flu symptoms including loosening congestion or easing a sore throat. As we mentioned earlier, adding honey is particularly effective and adding fresh ginger to tea can relax an upset stomach.
Rest and relaxation are always going to help you recover from a cold. However, your diet is also incredibly important too. By following a few simple guidelines you'll be able to give your body the nutrition it needs, recover faster, and stay healthy for longer.
We want to send good vibes to you and your family hoping everyone can recover from a cold or flu quicker with these helpful tips!
Celebrate American Heart Health Month by identifying symptoms of heart disease and improving your diet and exercise routine.