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Food and Nutrition

Food for Thought: What to Eat When You’re Sick

Enara Staff
/ August 17, 2018

We all know the feeling of dread when you wake up in the morning and feel something coming on. Not only is it miserable to feel sick, but it can derail the best diet intentions.  But does it have to? Here are some tips for staying on track when you’re not feeling your best.

  1. Load up on vegetables. Vegetables are given their characteristic color by phytochemicals, many of which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help shorten the duration of an illness. If you can’t stomach raw vegetables (sometimes fiber can be hard on an upset stomach), try them cooked or pureed in soup form.
  2. Your body needs protein to heal. It can be tempting when you’re not feeling well to load up on starchy carbs and neglect this important food group. Keep in mind that lean proteins (think eggs, lean fish, chicken breast) may be easier on an upset stomach than higher-fat proteins.
  3. Soups are a great option and often the first thing people want when they’re feeling under the weather. Try to choose a soup that includes a source of protein and avoid those with refined carbohydrates (looking at you, chicken noodle). And while homemade is best, there are some solid store-bought options to tide you over until you feel well enough to cook. Broth-based soups may be better tolerated when you’re nauseous and are a great way to replenish electrolytes.
  4. Yogurt is rich in wellness-promoting probiotics, which can replenish your good bacteria and reduce inflammation during an illness. Try to choose a plain yogurt without added sweeteners (which can actually promote inflammation). Other great sources of probiotics include pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso.
  5. Struggling with nausea? Brew yourself some stomach-soothing ginger tea. Brewing it from fresh ginger (vs. a tea bag) will provide the most benefits.
  6. Hydrate! Drinking plenty of water is always important, but even more so when you’re sick, particularly if you have a fever, are sweating, or have vomiting or diarrhea (which cause excessive loss of water and electrolytes).

Sample Sick-Day Meal Plan:

Breakfast – Plain yogurt with ½ banana sliced (bananas are easier on an upset stomach than a high-fiber fruit)

Lunch – Miso soup with tofu, add steamed spinach

Dinner – Chicken and vegetable broth-based soup (try our White Chicken Chili, but you may want to reduce the chile peppers and cayenne if you are struggling with nausea)

Fluids – Water (lots!), home-brewed ginger tea, hot broth

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