Food to Eat When Sick


When you are feeling sick, nothing sounds good. It’s all misery, gloom, and doom. Mom often seemed to know what to give us, but those days are long gone for most of us. Or maybe you are mom (or dad) and want to make a child feel better.

There are foods you can eat that will help with different symptoms and might even help you fight off the crud.

Read on for ideas to make you feel better.

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is not just an old wives’ tale. Instead, it is the best food you can eat when you don’t feel good.

It is a source of the vitamins, minerals, calories and protein needed when you’re sick. If you are vomiting, having diarrhea or fighting a fever, you need chicken soup’s fluids and electrolytes.

Chicken soup contains the amino acid cysteine that breaks apart mucus. It inhibits neutrophils that may cause coughing or stuffy noses. And chicken soup is an anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

The BRAT Foods

BRAT is an anacronym for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Brat foods are especially helpful when suffering from diarrhea or vomiting.

Sip water and if that stays down (or in), add broth and then nibble on the BRATs. You can also eat crackers, oatmeal, watermelon, and boiled potatoes. After about 48 hours, you should be able to return to your normal diet.


If you can’t handle chicken soup, try to eat vegetable, beef or fish broths. A broth is a thin, savory soup that may contain chunks of veggies or meat. Like chicken soup, broths are very good for rehydrating you.

They are an excellent source of calories, vitamins and minerals necessary to support your immune system. Broths don’t have the healing properties of chicken soup, but they will help. Add garlic for extra germ fighting potency.


Garlic keeps away more than vampires. It has well known antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal effects. Garlic may stimulate the immune system – one study found that people who eat garlic have 70% fewer sick days than those who don’t. They also get better a bit faster.

Add garlic to your broth and chicken soup or take garlic pills. The fresh stuff is always better and the germs will leave as quickly as a vampire!

Hot Tea

Hot tea is a panacea. Hot tea steam helps clear stuffed noses. It is hydrating, and it contains polyphenols that are an anti-inflammatory. Tannin, a polyphenol, has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Herbal teas are as good as black teas. Add ground turmeric to ease a sore throat, peppermint to open the nose, and ginger to ease a stomach. Some of the compounds in tea leaves, catechins, may protect against certain influenza viruses.

Adding a bit of honey is better than refined sugar for several reasons.


As long as you aren’t giving honey to a child under 12 months old, honey is very good for sick people. Honey has a lot of anti-microbial compounds. It has been used in wound dressing for thousands of years and it still in use today.

Honey is a great cough suppressant and a half a teaspoon in tea makes for an all-around sickroom drink.


Ginger tea, made from grated fresh ginger steeped in hot water, is effective at soothing a cough and really effective at calming an upset stomach. Fresh ginger has antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Try not to eat a lot of crystalized ginger as it is very high in sugar.

Try to avoid carbonated ginger ale as it can upset an upset stomach. If you want to drink ginger ale, let it go flat.

Spicy Foods

Just coming down with a head cold? Try something really spicy! Spicy food makes your nose run and cleans out sinus passages. Don’t try spicy food on an upset stomach – it can make your stomach really crabby.

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, has been used in nasal sprays to relieve congestion. It also seems to thin out mucus, although it can stimulate mucus. It may also work to soothe chronic coughs.

Coconut Water

Coconut water can help you stay hydrated while feverish, vomiting or having diarrhea. Coconut water contains glucose and electrolytes needed for re-hydration in a light flavorful drink. Coconut water can replace lost nutrients. Like tea, coconut water contains tannins and those will calm inflamed stomach lining.

Coconut water also contains anti-oxidants and minerals to help you feel better.


Oatmeal is a BRAT food. It is bland and easy to digest while containing a lot of calories and nutrients you need to fight off a cold. Oatmeal also stimulates the immune system and may contain a fiber that decreases gut inflammation.

Don’t get artificially flavored oatmeal. Instead, add a bit of honey and some bananas for a meal that will sit easy on your stomach.

You can also use oat bran or rolled oats in smoothies for the same effect.


Yogurt has some excellent health benefits. It contains protein and vitamins and minerals. Eaten cold, it will soothe a sore throat. If you are taking antibiotics, yogurt with active probiotics will replace all the good gut bacteria killed by your medication.

Probiotics help people stay healthy and get better more quickly. If you feel more congested after eating yogurt, try to eat another fermented food like sour kraut or take a live probiotic supplement.


No matter what the drug companies promise, only time heals a cold. The old saying “it takes a week if you treat it and seven days if you don’t” is mostly correct.

However, eating foods that sit easy on your stomach and keep you hydrated are an important part of getting well.

Remember the BRAT foods of bananas, rice, apples, and toast for a good idea of what to eat. And whatever you do, don’t forget the all-important chicken soup. It may be the only food or medication that can get you over your cold more quickly!

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