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We’ve all been there. You’re suffering from the usual symptoms – headache, stomach cramps, body aches – and then, to top it off, you’re hungry. But what should you eat when you’re under the weather? What foods will help you feel better, not worse?


February 19, 2018

When it comes to sick-friendly foods, forget your typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nausea, sore throats, and a runny nose can all make you feel like you don’t want to eat once, let alone three times a day. As you shuffle into the kitchen, focus on how you feel. When you’re sick, it’s important to choose foods that soothe your symptoms and fuel your body for a quick recovery from the flu, a stomach bug, or a head cold that won’t quit. Take the time to choose foods with the right nutrients when you’re sick, so you can get back to conquering the world – or at least the laundry.

What to Eat When You're Feeling Nauseous

woman holding mug of tea

If you feel a bit queasy, start with small portions of food and work your way up. Give saltines or toast a try. Foods that are high in starch can often calm an upset stomach by soaking up the excess acid. The tame taste also makes for easier consumption when your appetite may be a little off. Jell-O, or gelatin, is another virus-friendly food. Gelatin is easy on the stomach, and it helps keep your blood sugar regulated, giving you the energy you need to fight off your sickness.

If you have the stomach bug (medically known as gastroenteritis), or if you have unfortunately caught the flu, it’s likely you’ve lost a lot of nutrients during those urgent trips to the bathroom. With that, there’s a greater chance of becoming dehydrated - unless you stay ahead of it. Water is always the answer, but it’s not always the most settling to an upset stomach. So, your secret ingredient to eat when you’re nauseous is ginger. Ginger has been used as a remedy for digestive issues around the world for many years. Its roots are known to soothe the sensation of vomiting. Ginger can be found in many forms, but hot tea and ginger ale are some of the most popular and best drinks to help an upset stomach. If you decide to grab a liter of ginger ale, it’s best to drink it flat to avoid adding a fizzing sensation to a sensitive stomach. 

Another hydrating beverage when you’re losing fluids is Gatorade. This electrolyte boosting drink also contains water and sugar. These ingredients can provide you with the necessary calories your body is lacking if you’ve experienced any vomiting episodes.

It’s important to ease into anything you eat or drink when you’re sick, no matter which foods you decide to try first. Take baby sips and small bites until you know how your body is going to react. It may take hours or days before you’re back to your normal diet, and that’s okay. However, know your sickness limits. If your vomiting continues for more than a day or worsens, it’s recommended that you seek medical attention. You should also see a doctor if you’re nauseous and experience one of these symptoms:

·        a fever over 101° F

·        trouble producing urine

·        chest pain

·        abdominal pain

·        shortness of breath

·        severe headache

·        visual changes

·        lightheadedness

·        weakness

What to Eat When You Have Diarrhea 

sick woman holding stomach

It happens to the best of us. Whether you’re tapped out under the covers or in the middle of a busy day – diarrhea doesn’t discriminate. It might be a stomach bug or something you ate. Either way, diarrhea is an inconvenient discomfort that turns meal planning into a stressful situation. Find foods that are your friends, not your foes. When you’re sick, look for food that doesn’t aggravate an already upset stomach, like spicy foods, rich foods such as dairy products, and fried foods. Instead, embrace bland foods, like the B-R-A-T diet. The B-R-A-T diet stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, and it helps soothe your stomach when you have diarrhea. These four choices are often recognized as binding foods. Binding foods are low in fiber – and taste −making them easier to digest when you have the runs.

Much like nausea, it’s important to stay hydrated if you’re experiencing diarrhea. Drink lots of water and scribble Gatorade on the top of your grocery list. 

What to Eat When You Have a Cold  

bowl of chicken noodle soup

Order up. When you’re stuck in bed with a cold, it's time for mom’s old-fashioned chicken noodle soup. While comfort may be its number one ingredient, this recipe calls for a team of sick-fighting superheroes. Chicken is a great source of protein, and it also contains the amino acid, cysteine. Cysteine can thin mucus in the lungs which may provide some relief during the dreaded coughing spells that come with a cold. In addition, the hot broth can alleviate a sore throat and can aide in loosening sinus pressure and swelling that often accompany a cold. All in all, when you have a cold, chicken noodle soup will keep your body hydrated and heading toward happier days.           

If your appetite is feeling up to it, fruit is another good food to eat when you’re sick. While strawberries, apples, and oranges may not cure your cold, they can help shorten its duration or severity. Because fruit is high in Vitamin C, this refreshing treat could boost your immune system, helping you feel better faster.

MedExpress Pro Tip: If you’re too sick to eat fruit, slice it up and add it to your water – the more hydrated you are, the better!

Being under the weather is hard enough without having to prepare your next meal. But with a few of our quick tips and reminders, you’ll be back to chowing down on your favorite foods in no time.

*Please take into consideration all individual food allergies when considering your options. 

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