Diet is one of the biggest contributing factors when fighting the flu. If you’re sick, plus starved, you’ll take much longer to recover. So, you may be wondering… what DO you eat when you’ve got the flue, a cold, or any brand of yuck going around this time of year? Thanks for asking, I have some ideas. (Don’t worry, no major cooking involved.)
About a month ago, our family got slammed with the swine flu. Well, that’s what we think it was. I dragged my feverish and lethargic girls to the doctor. We had tests run for both the normal flu and strep, but they all came back negative. The MD told me he could run another test if I wanted, but he was pretty sure it was the swine yuck (and I opted out of the additional test that feels as if they’re trying to stab your brain with a toothpick, thank you very much).
My first fear with this was telling anyone we had it. I was afraid that people would avoid my family for the rest of the year. My next concern (which is typical for when we’re sick) was not allowing the bug to run rampant. When we have a sick household, my biggest goal is to keep its effects at minimum and it’s duration as brief as possible.
Diet is one of the biggest contributing factors when fighting the flu. If you’re sick, plus starved, you’ll take much longer to recover. So, you may be wondering… what DO you eat when you’ve got the flu, a cold, or any brand of yuck going around this time of year? Thanks for asking, I have some ideas.
First, it’s important to remember that these foods need to be both comforting and nutrient-dense. They also need to be something you can prepare no matter you’re condition. Your best bet is being a BRAT. This is the bland diet that is said to be the safest go-to when you’re down and out: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast are the stars of this game, and you can’t go wrong here. I suggest you stick all four on your next grocery list and make sure you’re stocked, just in case. The only downside of this diet is that it’s pretty nutrition-void. If your system can handle it, consider “boosting” these four sick day staples like this…
- Cut up the banana in a bowl of oatmeal.
- Add some sautéed to your rice (and don’t forget the garlic – see below for why)
- Throw some antioxidant-rich berries, such as blueberries, cherries, or raspberries, in to your applesauce.
- Spread some almond butter on to your toast.
And now a word about broth. This information won’t be new to my grandmother or yours, but there’s something about bone broths; they have healing magic in their droplets of golden fat. If you can (when you’re healthy), make a huge pot of stock, divide it out, and freeze it so that you have some in a pinch. If you can’t do the homemade, don’t sweat it, but be sure to look for an organic variety of the canned stuff (the others have additives, and I don’t see a point in adding more “stuff” in to the equation when we’re sick and fighting germs as it is).
Now about the garlic. (True Blood fans, beware!) The Stinky Rose is a great ingredient to help ward off colds and influenza. Garlic is proven to have strong antibiotic features, offering protection against viral, fungal, and bacterial infections. Plus, one of its best healing properties is that it’s a natural decongestant which can assist with the respiratory junk. My suggestion? Add garlic to whatever you consume when you’re sick – drop it in your soup, chop it and sautéed it and add it to your rice. I even have one friend who chews the stuff raw!
As always, dehydration is one of the biggest reasons we get sicker or stay sick longer. I’m a food writer, not a medical writer, so I’ll steer clear of the symptoms here and just offer a few drink-worthy suggestions. Most of the drinks that are most popular when we’re sick are loaded with extra sugar. The extra sugars can actually complicate the issue and make things worse. Water is best, but if you’re looking for a slight sugar boost, try OJ for a good vitamin C punch or ginger ale which will help soothe an upset stomach.
A few notes on how you can prepare for having a sick household:
- Stock up on anti-bacterial wipes and sanitizer. Remind your loved ones to wash their hands.
- Make things ahead – this is not a “wish to get sick,” just smart planning. Package and freeze the meals. If you don’t get sick, I bet you know someone who is, so pass the goods on to them!
- Purchase and store the ingredients you’ll need (refer to the BRAT list above).
A few notes on cooking for a sick family when you’re also down and out. Keep it simple:
- Buy the 90-second rice that you can pop in to the microwave.
- Buy veggies that are already sliced and diced.
- Throw organization out of the window. Don’t worry about putting all of the food in the proper place in your pantry – keep it out on the counter so that it’s easy to grab or prepare.
- Use your anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. Wash your hands. Do it often.
- Call a friend and send them to the store with your grocery list.