You know the saying “starve a fever, feed a cold”? It’s not true! In reality, it’s not about how much you eat but rather what you eat. Certain nutrients not only prevent illness but can help you feel better if you’ve come down with the flu.
While a bout of the flu may leave you without much of an appetite, it’s important to stay well nourished and hydrated to help your body heal. So next time you are feeling under the weather, try to incorporate some of these foods into your diet and be well on your well to recovery.
What to Eat When You Have the Flu
- Small, frequent meals. If your appetite is small, eating five or six smaller meals will help you to get all the nutrients you need without feeling stuffed. Aim to eat a smaller than normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and add in two to three snacks throughout the day.
- Plenty of protein. All meals and snacks should include some form of protein, whether from eggs, fish, chicken, beans, lentils, nuts, soy, dairy, or red meat. Protein is a building block in our body, helping to keep us strong. Whole food sources of protein also contain essential nutrients like zinc (eggs), selenium (nuts), vitamin B6 (turkey or beans), and vitamin B12 (fish or meat) which help boost your immune system.
- Chicken noodle soup. Now this saying is true: eat chicken soup when you are sick. Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine, which helps thin your mucus and fight inflammation. Plus the warm liquid helps keep your nose membranes moist and contributes to hydration.
- Kefir. This fermented drink is full of probiotics, which can help reduce your body’s inflammatory response. Some studies have shown that probiotics can shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms. Plus the smooth liquid will go down easily, especially if you have a sore throat. Look for versions with less than 15 grams of sugar per serving, or opt for plain.
- Citrus fruits. Colorful fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes contain flavonoids, which can help boost your immune system and potentially speed up your recovery. Plus citrus fruits have large amounts of vitamin C, which may help reduce the length and severity of your symptoms.
- Smoothies. While fruits and veggies contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help fight the flu virus, they may not be the easiest to eat when you aren’t feeling well. A smoothie is a great way to squeeze fresh produce in when you’re sick. Blend one cup of vegetables (spinach, carrots, celery, cucumber and beets work well) with one cup of fresh of frozen fruit, a handful of nuts, some Greek yogurt for protein, and a liquid of your choice.
- Ice pops. Popsicles are a great way to sooth your throat, get some liquids and a few servings of fruit. Look for versions made with 100% fruit, or try making your own.
- Hot tea. Green and black tea are rich in antioxidants, including L-theanine, and immune booster. Hot drinks can often soothe a sore throat, help with congestion, and ease chills and fatigue.
What If You’re Nauseous?
The flu is often accompanied by unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, bland, easy to digest foods are the most well tolerated. Try dry toast, plain crackers, and simple cereals are gentle on the stomach, while bananas can help to replace some of the potassium that you lose through vomiting or diarrhea. For liquids, bland low sodium broths are a good option. Or try some ginger, which is known to help soothe nausea. Some options include ginger tea, ginger ale, or adding fresh ginger into a smoothie.
Share your flu tips and tricks with us in the comments section, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, Plated, to unlock a $2 coupon to use on your next Luvo purchase.