What to eat when you’re under the weather

10/Dec/19 / 23:23

When you don’t feel well, food might be the last thing on your mind – and this time of year, many people feel less than their best. Each year, Americans get more than 1 billion colds, and 5 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu.1 (Here’s how to spot the difference between the cold and the flu.)
While you shouldn’t force food down, it is important to stay hydrated and encourage foods when possible – your immune system needs fuel from calories to help you feel better, after all!2
Here are some ideas for what to eat if you’re under the weather:

  • Chicken soup. Not only is chicken soup an easy-to-eat source of fluids that will help you stay hydrated, but it might even have a soothing, anti-inflammatory effect that can help speed up your recover.2

  • Broth. Similar to chicken soup, broth is a delicious and nutritious way to stay hydrated, especially if you can’t keep down solid foods. If you are salt-sensitive and buying from from a store, look for a low-sodium variety, as most broths are very high in salt.3

  • Garlic. Did you know garlic can help you both avoid illness and recover faster when you do get sick?3 Try adding garlic to chicken soup or broth to enhance their flavor and make them even more effective at fighting off symptoms.

  • Ginger. Best known for relieving nausea, you might try ginger tea or ginger ale – whatever you use, make sure it contains real ginger or ginger extract, not just flavoring.

  • Bananas. Easy to eat, bland in flavor, and a decent source of calories, bananas are part of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) that is often recommended to treat nausea, and can also help relieve diarrhea thanks to the soluble fiber they contain.3

  • Oatmeal. Like bananas, oatmeal is bland and easy to eat, and also provides calories, vitamins and minerals. If possible, avoid buying artificially flavored oatmeal with lots of added sugar – try adding a small amount of honey or fruit instead.

For more about what to do when you’re sick with the flu or cold, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Information contained in this blog post is not and should not be substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing severe symptoms of the cold or flu, we encourage you to visit your health care provider.

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(1)“Flu and Colds: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 8 Mar. 2019.

(2)“What to Eat When You’re Sick.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 16 Oct. 2019.

(3)Jones, Taylor. “The 15 Best Foods to Eat When You’re Sick.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 17 June 2016.