When you don't feel well, it can be difficult to get the nutrition you need. And there is always the problem of what to eat when sick as chronic illnesses are likely to have an impact on your appetite, particularly if you are too tired to prepare yourself a meal. Some medications or symptoms can make your food taste poorly. Nausea, sore throat or mouth sores can make it difficult to eat. However, it is very important that you continue to get proper nutrition when you are ill so you can recover. Some foods can help you eat, even when your symptoms make it difficult.
What to Eat When Sick
- Rice: Rice can help sooth an upset stomach and add bulk to your bowels that can help prevent diarrhea. Boil the rice in excess water. Once the rice is finished cooking, strain this excess water, and save it to sip on throughout the day.
- Chicken soup: Clear-broth soups such as chicken soup are commonly given to those suffering from the flu or a cold. These soups contain a great deal of sodium that will help you restore the fluid you have lost dealing with your illness. Chicken contains protein that can be helpful when you are trying to get over your illness.
- Bananas: Bananas are also easy to digest and chew, making them ideal for those that are ill. Bananas also contain plenty of vitamins and potassium that can help boost your overworked immune system.
- Cottage cheese: If you have been losing weight while sick, this can be a sign that your muscles are emaciated and sore. Consuming proteins that are easy to eat like cottage cheese can help ward off these symptoms without putting too much strain on the digestive system.
- Crackers or toast: When it comes to what to eat when sick, light foods like crackers or toast can be a great option as they will be easy on your stomach. Pair these crackers with soup to add a bit of texture to an otherwise liquid-based diet.
- Fruits rich in vitamin C: Vitamin C helps to strengthen the immune system, which can help you get over your illness more quickly. This is particularly helpful if you are dealing with a cold or flu. You can take vitamin C in supplement form, but it is often better to take in this vitamin through dietary sources. Fruits like cherries, melons, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and black currants provide high sources of vitamin C.
- Yogurt: Yogurt contains probiotics that can help you fight off the cold or flu. These will help you create a higher white blood cell count and fight disease. Yogurt also contains protein that is easy to digest and requires no preparation to consume.
- Applesauce: Applesauce contains a high level of antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory agents and fiber. This can help you relieve joint and muscle pain brought on by laying down or suffering from fever.
- Popsicles: Sucking on a popsicle can help to ease the pain of a sore throat. This will also help you get more fluids without straining yourself. Seek out popsicles that are 100 percent fruit juice to help you get better nutrition instead of simply consuming a great deal of sugar.
- Peppermint: Peppermint tea is commonly prescribed to help settle an upset stomach and quell nausea. Women that are dealing with morning sickness often turn to this remedy to help manage their symptoms.
How to Eat When You're Sick
Besides what to eat when sick, how to eat is equally important. When you are sick or ill, you may suffer nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, trouble swallowing, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss or gain, and nutritional deficiency, etc. Whatever symptoms you are experiencing during illness, proper diet is the first thing you and your family should highly pay attention to.
1. If you have no appetite
Make a point of eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of trying to sit down for a full sized meals. Large meals can be overwhelming when you do not feel like eating. Seek out comfort foods that will seem appealing when you feel like eating. Keeping nutritious snacks on hand like yogurt, nuts or carrot sticks will help you get a bit of nutrition when you manage to eat.
2. If you have mouth sores or trouble swallowing
If you are having trouble eating, make sure you avoid foods that require you to chew a great deal. Grinding foods like vegetables or meat can make them easier to swallow. Sipping on smoothies or soup can also help you get nutrition without straining. Those suffering from dry mouth can chew gum or suck on hard candies to simulate their saliva glands. If you are having a great deal of trouble getting food down, talk to your doctor about getting liquid meal replacements to ensure you will still get the nutrition you need.
3. If you experience nausea
When you are nauseous, try eating smaller meals and eat slowly to avoid over stimulating your system. Stick with bland foods as well. Foods like ginger, peppermint or hard candies can help to quell your nausea. Your doctor may be able to provide you with anti-nausea medication if your symptoms are seriously impacting your ability to get food down.
4. If you feel exhausted
If you feel too tired to make a meal, make a point of stocking up on pre-prepared meals you can simply heat and eat. Stocking up on nutritious snacks like sliced vegetables, nuts, whole grain breakfast cereal, yogurt or hardboiled eggs so you can get nutrition without straining yourself. Eat your largest meal when you seem to have the most energy.
5. If you have diarrhea
Many medications can cause diarrhea. If you find yourself suffering from this symptom, avoid greasy foods and focus on a diet of bland, soft foods. Diarrhea can easily cause dehydration so make a point of drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, throughout the day. Sports drinks diluted with water can help you replace electrolytes you are losing.
6. If you experience constipation
Treatments such as the use of opioid-based pain medications tend to cause constipation. Eat foods like applesauce, whole grain cereals, apricots or prunes that are high in fiber. Try to get up and walk to help stimulate your digestive system as well.
7. If you are losing weight
If you are losing weight when you should not, your priority should be getting more calories in your diet. Make a point of eating your favorite foods, and do not feel like you need to pass on foods high in calories like desserts or milkshakes. Eat as often as you can manage throughout the day to get more calories in. When you snack, eat foods that provide high amounts of energy like cheese, nuts, hardboiled eggs or seeds.
8. If you are gaining weight
Medications like alpha or beta blockers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, steroids or insulin can make you gain weight. Talk with your doctor about the best way to avoid these symptoms without cutting valuable nutrition out of your routine.
9. If you are not getting enough nutrition
If you are having serious trouble getting a balanced diet down, talk to your doctor about using dietary supplements until your symptoms have subsided. Do not try to create a supplement routine without speaking to your doctor first as some of these supplements may interfere with the medications you are taking.