Whenever I feel my throat start to itch with the warning sign of a sore throat, I immediately jump into my sickness management plan. Aside from medications like Dayquil, I've definitely noticed how the foods I eat when I'm sick tend to have a huge effect on my symptoms. If my nose even begins to run, for instance, I drink a huge mug of turmeric tea ASAP. If I start feeling nauseated, I cook up a pot of brown rice. I'm no dietitian myself, but I talked to a few experts who've recommended foods to avoid when you're sick, so that you can get back to your usual self as quickly as possible.
Now, while this list includes suggestions for what to avoid if you don't want your cold to get worse, it's also crucial to eat enough food in general when you're not feeling your best. "When you’re feeling under the weather, you want to focus on foods that will help keep you hydrated and give your body the energy and nutrients that it needs to fight off the illness," Alyssa Tucci, director of nutrition at Virtual Health Partners, tells Elite Daily over email.
So, even though you might be skipping some of your mealtime go-tos, be sure to add in other healthy foods so that you're still getting plenty of energy. "In general," Tucci says, "try to eat small, frequent meals and snacks with nutrient-dense ingredients." Additionally, be sure to avoid these five foods if you don't want your cold to take a turn for the worst.
Anything With Caffeine
If you're used to starting your day with a hot cup of coffee (or three), you might want to skip that morning ritual if you're feeling super under the weather. According to Tucci, caffeine can dehydrate you, and that's the last thing you need when you're already feeling sick.
Instead, the nutrition expert suggests starting your day with a smoothie. "Smoothies are great choices because they pack in a variety of nutritious ingredients, plus have the added benefit of helping to hydrate you," she tells Elite Daily.
French Fries (I'm So Sorry)
Salty foods like French fries are total comfort foods for me when I'm sick, but if you want to feel better in record time, Carol Aguirre, MS, RD/LDN, a dietitian/nutritionist based in Florida, tells Elite Daily that you should try to save them for when you're feeling 100 percent again.
"Pass on the double cheese burgers and French fries," she says. "Foods that are high in fat can be more difficult to digest compared to carbs and protein and can trigger stomach pains as a result."
Keep Your Meat To A Minimum
Try to stay away from meat, fish, eggs, and chicken, says Dr. Divya Selvakumar, a registered dietitian, nutrition specialist, and nutrition professor. "If meat must be consumed," she tells Elite Daily, "then it should be eaten in the form of a soup that has been cooked for a long time. However, it is preferable to use plant-based foods instead."
Hello, chicken noodle soup.
Cheese Might Just Make Things Worse
If you are having some comforting chicken noodle soup, try to resist the urge to top off your bowl with shredded cheese. According to registered dietitian Callie Exas MPH, MS, RDN, the number one food to avoid if you're sick is dairy, because it can induce mucus secretion, making you feel even more clogged up. If your stomach is sensitive to lactose already, be extra cautious, Exas says. "When you're sick, your microbiome may be inflamed, which can cause more gastric distress, so it's important to stay away from foods that are harder on the gut," she tells Elite Daily.
Exas suggests taking probiotics to support your gut microbiome, which, she explains, is responsible for the synthesis of 80 percent of your immune response mechanism. In other words, treat your gut right, and it'll return the favor for you and your sniffles.
Soda Is A Definite No-Go
While it's important to avoid added sugars in general when your immune system has taken a hit, Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, says that soda is a definite drink to avoid when you're sick. Because it's essentially a highly concentrated solution of sugar and water, it's nearly effortless to digest, he says, which can have an immediate effect on your immune system as it weakens your white blood cells. "In reality," Backe tells Elite Daily, "one serving of soda is enough to compromise your white blood cells to the point where they are up approximately 35 percent less effective at fighting off invasive bacteria."
As always, though, listen to both your body and your doctor about your food choices. And don't forget to rest up, girl.