When sick, you might be tempted to reach for your favorite candy or junk food for comfort, even if you know they are unhealthy. But if you find yourself doing this, stop. These foods are typically loaded with immune-suppressing fats or sugars, which could actually prolong your illness instead of helping you get better.
On the other hand, when you choose foods that are known to help with illness, it can not only help you feel better now, it can even speed your recovery.
While the general rules of healthy eating still apply when you are sick — like avoiding processed foods and sugar-laden snacks — there are a few specific foods you might want to consider adding to your get-well diet, such as:
- Bananas: Bananas are high in vitamins and potassium. They contain energizing calories. Plus, they are gentle on your digestive system. If you are suffering from a digestive-related sickness or have had nausea, bananas could be a good choice for you. Plus, potassium is especially important when you are sick, because it gets depleted when you have vomiting, diarrhea or sweating.
- Chicken Soup: Chicken soup has been used as a get-well staple for years. Part of the reason it works so well is that broth — especially bone broth — is packed with nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is an excellent choice when you are sick. Not only is it rich in vitamins, minerals and calcium, it also contains probiotics, which have been shown to help with colds.
- Oranges: Oranges are loaded with nutrients, including vitamin C which helps fight the common cold. Try eating grapefruit for breakfast or adding lemon to your water or tea as these citrus fruits are also packed with vitamin C.
- Oatmeal: Because oatmeal is bland, it is often easy to eat when you are sick. Plus, it provides calories, vitamins and minerals. Just be sure to steer clear of eating artificially flavored oatmeal with added sugar. Instead, cook whole oats and use honey as a sweetener.
What to Eat When You Have Lost Your Appetite
What happens if you are sick and you do not feel like eating at all? Until your appetite returns, there are still ways you can use foods to help heal your body. Here are few suggestions:
- Herbal Tea: Herbal teas contain antioxidants, which help fight infection. Consider adding some lemon as well, which will give you another dose of vitamin C.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Try adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, along with some honey for flavor, to your next glass of water.
- Ginger: Ginger can help prevent and soothe nausea. But instead of reaching for a sugar-laden ginger ale, try drinking ginger tea instead. If you need sweetener, add a bit of honey.
Finally, keep in mind that any healthy lifestyle choices you make while you are sick can contribute to you getting better sooner. That could mean getting extra sleep, drinking extra fluids or taking a warm bath. So, assess your situation, see what might be lacking, then give your body what it needs. It will thank you!