what to eat when you’re sick

So this past week has been rough. I have been miserably sick, though it was not Bronchitis like I originally thought.

Like many of the people close to me know, I am a hypochondriac.


Yes, this would be me if I were a camel.

And when I sniffle, puke, cough, itch–whatever it may be–I do what any American in the 21st century does. I google. Usually it takes me to WebMD (hate/love) or something comparable, and I self diagnose. Right now, I’m at about a 30% accuracy rate. That may not seem good, but that means I’ve been right enough times to at least entertain the thought I could be right each time.

I digress.

Once I have self-diagnosed, then I immediately start looking for remedies. I have found foods can play a large role in someone’s recovery, which makes sense. Change the fuel to make the engine run better.

So, again, this post is just a way that everyone gets to benefit from my countless hours of internet research I am known to do. So here we go: 10 Foods To Eat When You’re Sick, brought to you by my paranoia, neuroticism and anxiety (mainly).

1. Ginger

I absolutely love ginger, so I was excited about starting off the list with this one. A common drink to garlic-gingerenjoy when you’re sick is ginger ale, but have you ever wondered “uh…why?” Ginger is a natural anti-nauseant. When you are feeling sick to your stomach, drinking ginger beverages can be the best option. Instead of pop, opt for a popular ginger soda that contains real ginger, not just ginger-sugar flavoring. You can also make your own ginger tea by pouring boiling water over slices of ginger and honey. Enjoy this hot beverage and feel the stomach relief.

According to a study from University of Rochester’s Dermatology and Radiation Oncology department, which monitored the effects of ginger prescribed to patients undergoing chemotherapy, a small, one-quarter teaspoon of ginger was effective in reducing symptoms of nausea by up to 40%.

2. Soup (duh)

chicken soupSoup is another favorite when you are feeling sick. The warming broth relaxes your chest when you are congested. Garlic and onion broth give amazing nutrients and have been shown to be antimicrobial. Some people believe that you should restrict dairy intake when you have a lot of mucus and phlegm, which is true for creamy soups, like cream of chicken and mushroom, that can exacerbate coughing.

I couldn’t find any studies that suggested that the soup is what flat out cures you, but the popular and comforting home remedy has been credited for it’s ability to hydrate the body in hopes of fighting off infection, of reducing overall inflammation, and with freeing up congested airways, noses, and throats.

3. Honey


Not only is honey sweet and delicious, but it’s great for a sore throat. Honey is an antimicrobial and can help kill the bacteria on the back of your throat. Enjoy a spoonful of honey or mix it into tea. Warm honey tea can give amazing relief to a sore throat. The combination of the warm liquid and the bacteria-destroying honey is a powerful one-two punch. Mix it with ginger tea and you’ll have a delicious, soothing sore throat remedy.

Research presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, found that honey is able to fight infection in multiple ways. For instance, honey has an arsenal of bacterial-fighting weapons on hand, such as polyphenols, high sugar concentration, hydrogen peroxide, osmotic effect, and a natural acidity, all which protect the body from bacteria and actively target and destroy bacterial cells.

4. Spicy Food

When you’re congested, it may be hard to eat. You can’t smell, you can’t taste, and you’re just miserable. What you really need is to clear your sinuses and eustachian tube. The perfect remedy spicy foodfor this is to eat super spicy foods. Your body reacts to the burning sensation by loosening up the mucus that is clogging your body. Plus, the strong flavors will be easier for you to taste compared to tasteless, bland foods.

For instance, research from 2011 that was published in the journal, Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, lined cayenne pepper spice (or rather capsaicin, cayenne’s active ingredient) to improving circulation, making digestion more efficient, and even to relieving pain and congestion related to flu symptoms. The study prescribed capsaicin nasal spray to participants during a duration of two weeks and found that overall participants who used the spray suffered less congestion.

5. Ginseng

Ginseng is a popular ingredient in energizing drinks and cold remedy medications. I found out that ginseng_rootone popular pill brand promises shorter illnesses with continued consumption of their ginseng product. Not sure how true that it, but I’ll take it. You can easily make ginseng drinks and soup at home and forgo these manufactured concoctions altogether. You can find ginseng at Asian grocery stores in dried and powdered form. You can add ginseng to your honey tea and pop a root in your broth as you simmer soup. Allegedly, it will help re-energize your body, and reduce the duration and severity of your sickness.

A study from Georgia State University, red ginseng extract was able to effectively ward off influenza. The study examined a group of mice infected with “influenza A viral infection” and given ginseng as treatment over a lengthy duration. Findings showed that mice who took the ginseng produced greater levels of flu-fighting antiviral proteins, resulting in an improved ability to fight the influenza and prevent future flu. Fascinating.

6. Cloves (oil, not cigarettes)

clovesClove oil is commonly used in dental surgeries when packing open wounds in the mouth. It is a powerful alternative, topical pain killer. You can use this natural spice to your advantage when you have a sore throat. Add clove powder to your warm tea or chew on whole cloves for a more potent throat remedy. But, beware! With clove oil, it can actually irritate the throat.

According to a study conducted at the Central Institute of Nedical and Aromatic Plants, located in Lucknow, India, several anti-vital oils, including clove oil, was able to help battle a drug-resistant mutations of several bacterial infections, including Mycobacterium smegmatis, E. coli, and Candida albicans.

7. Crackers

If you have a stomach flu, eating may be the last thing on your mind. If you can manage it, unflavored, unsalted crackers are a great food to eat. Saltines can help absorb excess stomach crackers_saltineacids when you have thrown up everything else. Enjoy simple crackers and not cheese, butter, or herb flavored. While these may taste better, they could be too heavy on your sensitive stomach. When you’re feeling up to it, add some natural nut butter on top of your crackers for protein and see how that goes down.

My doctor always recommends eating saltine crackers, or another bland cracker brand, as a way to reduce nausea associated with the stomach flu. Crackers work to quell nausea due to their high starch content, which effectively absorbs excess chinning stomach acid as well as pregnancy-related morning sickness.

8. Bananas

bananasBananas are another great food to have when you are feeling nauseated. They are high in fruit sugars, which can give you a much needed energy boost when you are sick. Bananas make up part of the BRAT diet, which is a recommended diet when suffering from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. Enjoy any of these four foods knowing they are easy on the stomach.

Thank goodness for bananas, which effectively reduce nausea associated with flu (had it. yuck.), hangover (plead the fifth), and morning sickness (mental note for the future). Bananas are high in several nutrients that quell an upset tummy, including in pectin (which aids digestion and banishes toxins and heavy metals), prebiotics (which encourage the growth of good bacteria in the bowel), fiber (which aids healthy bowel health and soothes the digestive tract), electrolytes (which calm upset tummy and diarrhoea), and a gentle coating that prevents heartburn, ulcers, and coats and protects the lining of the stomach. Too bad for anyone who doesn’t like them (I’m looking at you, Abram Rampey).

9. Popsicles


It seems any sort of illness can be lessened with a delicious popsicle. When you’re feeling sick, you may resist drinking liquids. This is the total opposite of what you need to do to get better faster. Stave off dehydration by consuming a variety of liquids. Popsicles are a great frozen liquid for you to enjoy.

The cold will also help numb a sore throat. Look for pure juice varieties of popsicles to get some natural fruit sugars and energy. Just be sure to look for popsicles that contain natural flavors and fruit juices. As refined sugars can give you a headache and further prevent the body’s ability to fight off infection. I prefer the Outshine all-natural fruit pops by Dreyer’s because their flavors make my tongue smile. However, natural hydration with fruit bars will deliver the water and nutrients you need to stay energized and fight off that flu!

10. Orange Juice

orangesNormally, most juices are high in sugar and overly processed. However, when you’re sick with a cold, a glass of 100-percent real orange juice (with pulp) can provide a vitamin kick when you’re not eating a lot or having trouble digesting foods high in fiber due to gastric distress. Juice is a great way to get vitamins and fruit sugar in an easily digestible format. Also, Heath and his family swear by heating orange juice for a little bit in the microwave to sooth a sore throat.

Real vegetable juices are also a great choice. Whatever you pick, just make sure it’s 100% pure fruit or vegetable juice with no added refined sugars, colors, or chemicals. Plus, the natural vitamins and nutrients in real fruit juice (such as vitamin C) will boost the immune system and aid in energy stores to give your body that zip it needs to whip that flu bug.


best food to eat when you’re suffering from allergies:



Kale contains flavonoids that reduce the body’s histamine response and can help reduce allergy symptoms like nasal congestion and sneezing. It’s also an anti-inflammatory food that can help ease the pain of sinus infections.

best foods to eat when you have an upset stomach:

BRAT diet


like I said before, BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. These low-fiber foods give your digestive system a break while replacing essential nutrients that may have been lost due to vomiting or diarrhea.

best food for a cold:

Chicken Soup

You’re mom was right: chicken soup is the best thing to eat when you have a cold! The zinc in chicken – particularly dark meat chicken – helps shorten the duration of a cold, while the water and salt keeps you hydrated. A squeeze of lemon adds some much-needed vitamin C.

If that wasn’t helpful, then you’re basically telling me 1/5 of my life’s work googling things is worth nothing to you. So, don’t make me cry.


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