Eating When You Have the Flu
When you or a loved one has the flu, the last thing you may feel like doing is eating. It’s certainly okay to eat a little less with the flu, as you likely have a reduced appetite.
Still, you'll need to eat small amounts of the right foods to provide you with energy and nutrients while you recover.
Read on to learn more about what you should eat and drink as well as what’s off-limits when you have the seasonal flu.
Foods to Eat
Food is what gives your body the energy and nutrients it needs to function. Such effects are equally vital when you have the flu. Still, it’s all about eating the right foods for your condition.
Consider eating the following foods when you have the flu.
1. Hot Tea
A cup of steaming tea can help soothe a scratchy throat and warm you right up. Look for a tea blend with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, which can all help loosen congestion that comes with a cold or the flu. Green tea is another smart choice— it’s high in polyphenols, a powerful type of antioxidant.
2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
“Not only does olive oil pack anti-inflammatory properties, some studies show it may also have anti-microbial ones, too,” says Shaw. Drizzle it everywhere — on eggs, salads, meat, fish, veggies, or a slab of fresh whole grain bread.
These little green trees are known for their fiber content, but one cup of raw broccoli delivers nearly 100% of your daily value of vitamin C. “The nutritional benefits are far more superior if eaten raw or minimally cooked (such as steaming),” says Shaw. Add them raw to a salad, use them as a dipper for hummus, or toss raw florets in a flavorful dressing for a standalone side.
This sweet syrup contains antioxidants to bolster your immune system, and it can also help tame a stubborn cough by soothing the back of the throat and breaking up hack-inducing mucus.
5. Wild Blueberries
Just like the name suggests, wild blueberries aren’t cultivated, which means they’re higher in anthocyanins, a potent antioxidant that gives them their striking color. Since blueberries aren’t in season during the height of cold and flu time, head to your grocery store’s freezer aisle.
6. Bone Broth
No, this isn’t just a foodie fad. Bone broth is made using more bones and cartilage than regular stock is made from, so you get a concentrated dose of all the essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that help nourish and heal, says Shaw. If you need some flavor, simmer it with anti-inflammatory and infection-fighting ingredients like ginger, garlic, or cayenne for an extra immune boost. Try two quality brands: Osso Good and Bare Bones.
These ruby red arils are packed with more antioxidants than what you’ll find in antioxidant superstar green tea. The juice (try POM Wonderful) has them too — just be mindful of how much you’re swilling, since you’re getting lots of sugar without the beneficial fiber you get when you eat the whole seeds.
It’s easy to get dehydrated with the flu. Not only do you eat and drink less and have an overall reduced water intake, but you also lose water with sweat when you have a fever.
Not only are fluids important for your body functions in general, but they can also help break up congestion and stave off infections.
When it comes to hydrating beverages, water still ranks number one. It also acts as a natural detox for your body. If you aren’t a fan of water or are looking for something with more flavor, you can also drink:
- ginger tea
- herbal tea with honey
- honey and lemon tea (mix equal parts with hot water)
- 100 percent juices (look for products without added sugars)
Low-sugar sports drinks or other electrolyte-containing beverages, such as Pedialyte, may be used if you’re dehydrated only.
Although they’re not typical of the seasonal flu, vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms that could warrant the use of electrolytes.