Flu season can be a real drag. Making nutritional choices while sick can be tough, but here are seven things to avoid eating if you want to get well sooner!
When you get sick, you probably get a lot of well-meaning advice. Rest up, drink lots of fluids, and load up on chicken noodle soup!
All these tips can be helpful and appreciated when you’re down and out. But did you know there are also some things you shouldn’t do, especially if you have the flu?
Watching what you eat is essential to building your immune system back up. This includes adding the necessary vitamins and minerals into your body.
It also means you have to be careful what you put into it. Some ingredients can make the symptoms worse and keep you sick longer.
If you just got a flu diagnosis or you feel like it might be why you’re sick, be sure to avoid these seven foods and drinks until you’re feeling better!
1. Caffeinated Drinks
You need to stay hydrated — but caffeinated drinks are not the way to do the job.
Caffeine is probably the number one thing to avoid with the flu. It dehydrates your body, and your illness is already doing a good job of that, so it doesn’t need any help!
Instead of caffeinated products, water is, of course, the best option. If you must have flavor, herbal teas, soup broth, ginger ale, and ginger tea are good choices. Sore throats can also benefit from lemon and honey tea.
2. Greasy Foods
If you don’t feel like cooking, but you know you need to eat something, it’s tempting to take the easy way out.
Drive-thru meals and quick-cook frozen dinners are hard for your body to digest, though. Greasy foods aren’t ideal for you when you’re in the best of health. They’re definitely not a smart option when you’re sick.
The more grease in your food, the harder your body has to work to heal. Your digestive tract is going to be suffering, along with the rest of you.
Avoid the drive-thru or frozen food temptation and stick with canned soup or a sandwich if you don’t want to cook.
3. Sharp Foods
Symptoms of the flu often include sore and scratchy throats. Swallowing your own saliva can be enough to cause pain. Sharp foods, like chips and crackers, make this worse!
You have to be really cautious about what you eat, or it can feel like you’re swallowing razor blades.
Dry toast and saltines are often the go-to when you’re not feeling well. With a sore throat, you may as well be eating glass instead of these foods.
Stay away from anything sharp or crunchy. As a side note, spicy foods can also irritate a sore throat. Nibble with care!
4. Sugary Drinks
Sugar-laden drinks advertise that they replace nutrients you lose when you’re sick, or you sweat. They’re kind of right — and kind of not.
Your electrolytes do get drained when you have the flu. However, it’s not helping to replace them with sugar-packed drinks like Powerade, Gatorade, or fruit juices. These beverages have nutrients that can inflame your immune system.
This function of your body is already working overtime fighting the germs causing your flu, extra inflammation is not welcome. It slows down the response of your nurse cells and drags your recovery out longer.
Your best bet is to stick with clear liquids. Water, broth, and herbal teas keep you from getting dehydrated. Broth and teas will replace a lot of the nutrients you lose when you’re sick.
5. Dairy Products
It might surprise you to know that millions of people walk around with a dairy allergy and don’t even realize it.
In fact, 90% of childhood allergies can be traced back to cow’s milk.
When you’re sick, dairy products made from cow’s milk can make the phlegm you are already creating become thicker. This irritates your already sensitive throat.
Ice cream and other frozen treats can soothe a scratchy throat and make you feel a little better. But if you’d rather avoid the extra mucous, go with non-dairy popsicles or Jello.
6. Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol, like caffeine, dehydrates your body. When you’re sick, you tend to sleep a lot, and you don’t drink enough water as it is. Mixing this with a known dehydrator is not a smart idea.
On top of the diuretic effect, alcohol also does not pair well with most medications. You know, if you’ve read the warning labels on the majority of your prescriptions and OTC medicine, that alcohol is usually prohibited.
If you’re taking medication, alcohol might interact with it, reducing its benefits. When your goal is getting better as fast as possible, avoid alcohol.
7. Processed Foods
Processed foods don’t help your body heal. This is because they’re incapable of providing the right nutrients a body needs to fight germs.
But beyond that, they can actually make a sick body worse.
The ingredients in these foods have to break down before digesting. Then, instead of healing, your body is concentrating on that task. You’re taking valuable resources from your immune and other systems and giving them to your GI tract.
The bacteria in your gut needs balancing in order for the rest of your body to function optimally. Processed foods put it out of whack. When you’re healthy, you probably won’t notice it as much. But when you’re sick, it will delay your healing.
There aren’t too many people who enjoy being sick enough to want it to stretch out indefinitely. Sure, it’s a break from your everyday responsibilities, but there’s a hefty price tag attached.
To get back on track to your regularly scheduled program of tasks, stay away from these foods when you have the flu!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with HQ to help them with their online marketing.