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What do you eat when you are sick?

I currently have quite possibly one of the worst colds I have ever had, the kind that reminds you why a cold is a "virus." I have basically zero appetite but I am also in the midst of studying for a final for a summer course (I am reading through recipes on the site to increase my appetite, haha). Question for the Food52 community- what do you eat when you or someone you love is sick, preferably if the sickness is respiratory related?

asked by Girlfromipanema 6 months ago

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38 answers 1681 views
Hana Asbrink
Hana Asbrink

Senior Lifestyle Editor

added 6 months ago

Hi GirlfromIpanema - sorry to hear you're ill! We have a lot of great places to start here, hope you feel better soon:

https://food52.com/blog...
https://food52.com/blog...
https://food52.com/blog...
https://food52.com/hotline...

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Girlfromipanema
added 6 months ago

Thanks so much Hana- this is like a virtual Food52 hug, I will peruse these for inspiration :)

HalfPint
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

This advice comes from my pediatrician: avoid dairy products (they can cause more mucus), drink lots of water (be it straight up, tea, water-based soups, etc). My go-to when I'm sick is rice porridge aka congee aka chao. Easy to make: rice + water. Easy to digest. My mother made it for us when we got sick like this. And Mom knows best :)

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Girlfromipanema
added 6 months ago

This is great advice, HalfPint- I trust both your pediatrician and your mother :) . Congee would be perfect and soothing.

Bevi
added 6 months ago

Same here. I make jook and add thinly sliced garlic and maybe some thinly sliced and sautéed scallions.

Rachelwrites
added 6 months ago

Avoid bananas-my husband's doc says they create more mucus.

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MMH
MMH
added 6 months ago

Take out Pho from my favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

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MMH
MMH
added 6 months ago

There is 1 where i have gone in and said i was sick and asked them to make me what they recommend.

ChefJune
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 6 months ago

Sorry you're feeling so oocky.
When I'm sick I eat as little as possible so my body can use its energy to heal, not digest food. Fresh fruit is easiest for your body to digest.
Otherwise, look up recipes for the Chinese gruel called Congee. It's easy to eat and goes down easy..

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Smaug
added 6 months ago

One would hope that eating would produce a net energy gain; we're all in a lot of trouble otherwise.

Dona
added 6 months ago

Miso soup works for me. Tokyo Cafe is walking distance from my house.

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creamtea
creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

I used to give my kids "lemon honey tea" when they were little. Hot water, squeeze of lemon, honey. And of course chicken soup when there was time and energy to make it.

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scruz
added 6 months ago

only two things satisfy my ability to taste/sense. 1) cold watermelon 2)taco bell crispy tacos for crunch and saltiness. ok i'll add this recent on 3) blackberries.

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Girlfromipanema
added 6 months ago

Yes, cannot taste anything, fruit has been a lifesaver. Hilarious about taco bell tacos- sometimes you need what you need.

BerryBaby
BerryBaby

BerryBaby is trusted source on General Cooking

added 6 months ago

My mother's remedy was the old school chicken soup. I keep chicken bouillon on hand, only need hot water. For me, it works like a charm. Hope you are feeling 100% soon!

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Girlfromipanema
added 6 months ago

Thanks BerryBaby- soup seems to be the theme here. I am hoping to pick up some Mexican chicken soup-tortilla soup- soon:)

SKK
SKK
added 6 months ago

https://food52.com/recipes...

This is the best soup remedy! And the title of the recipe says it all.

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cv
cv
added 6 months ago

Soups, porridges, gruels, etc. are amongst the most popular sick foods worldwide for several good reasons.

1.) Liquid - these all provide vital rehydration compared to solid foods like a steak, baked potato or a plate of pasta.

2.) Easy to eat - as a liquid bearing small pieces, it doesn't take much in the way of manipulating with utensils nor chewing which can be uncomfortable with muscle aches. Also, there are no large pieces to swallow which helps if you have a sore throat.

All of the important components are in the broth: electrolytes, protein, carbohydrates (both simple and complex)

Also, these are all in one dish which makes consumption far easier than navigating a big plate (or multiple pieces of dishware) and multiple utensils. A spoon (and/or chopsticks) might be all you need.

3.) Blandness - It is unwise to upset stomachs with strong or spicy foods during sickness. These soups typically are low in fat which is actually difficult for the body to process and again can upset the gastrointestinal system.

4.) Easy to digest - It's already in a liquid and most of the pieces are pretty small, so a lot of the processing is already done. Some of the nutrients have already been extracted during the cooking into the broth.

5.) Heat - opens up sinuses, promotes circulation. Also comforting if you have a fever.

6.) Inexpensive and flexible: you don't need to labor over these dishes nor spend a fortune to make these. In fact, there's really no reason to follow a recipe provided you know how to make a basic soup.

If you have leftover rice, throw it in. If you have leftover veggies, throw those in. Small pieces of animal protein (meat, poultry, fish, etc.)? Throw those in.

There's no surprise why soups, gruels, porridges, etc. are the commonly prescribed food for sick people.

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E E Faris
added 6 months ago

Some things that work for my family are spicy ginger beer (Latin brands are usually cheaper and have more kick), or hot tea with ginger and lemon. If you like fruit juice or chilled water with lots of lemon juice try that. Good quality frozen chicken soup is easy to heat up and it's proven to help with colds. This is also the time when a hot clear broth or consommé is nice. Some ice cream, chocolate pudding, or macaroni and cheese if your appetite comes back some. Buttered toast too.

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boulangere
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added 6 months ago

I'll only tell you if you promise not to tell anyone. Lipton's Instant Chicken Noodle Soup. You know, those teeny-tiny noodles? Probably more sodium than anyone truly needs. But the aroma alone takes me right back to being sick as a child, and getting to sit in bed and sip it. I saved the noodles for last. Still do.

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Maria Goldie
added 5 months ago

Pastina in brodo, little pasta in chicken broth

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Mia Harris
added 5 months ago

When you are sick, drinking a large amount of warm water is the primary choice. Some nutrients in food can help you to enhance the body's immunity, such as protein, vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin B. For example:
Radish can protect the blood capillary in the nose and fight with the viruses or bacteria, so it can relieve a runny nose and other inflammations in the respiratory tracts.
The green part of the scallion contains beta-carotene, which contributes to maintaining the health of mucous membrane. Also, slice the white part of scallion and breath nearby the nostrils for a few minutes, which helps to improve the nasal congestion symptoms caused by the cold.

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Gammy
added 5 months ago

Jello! Easy to make and goes down easily. Fluids and carbs, nothing to upset your tummy. If your throat is scratchy, try some Throat-Coat herbal tea, it really does ease any pain.

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BJ Crowell
added 5 months ago

I second the spicy ginger beer suggestion - I love that when I have a stuffy nose and sore throat, plus it can help settle a queasy stomach. Hot and sour soup is another favorite of mine, and lots of Popsicles!

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Maryam
added 5 months ago

Often when I'm sick I make a tortellini soup - I heat up chicken broth with sliced garlic cloves and add in fresh or frozen cheese tortellini, cherry tomatoes, and a few big handfuls of spinach right at the end. Then I'll squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Easy to digest, warming, flavorful (plus anti-viral/anti-bacterial properties from the lemon and garlic), and very easy to make in a few minutes once you have the ingredients.

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Ttrockwood
added 5 months ago

Back in college purely out of complete desperation without a delivery budget and very little actual food in my kitchen i came up with my “i am sick and feel like $h*t soup” with what i could buy at the bodega on the corner:
- a 12oz can of classic v8 juice
- 1/2 can of drained white beans
- 2/3 cloves of garlic
- jarred horseradish
Blend the v8 and beans, add a splash of water as needed. Saute the garlic for a few minutes, add the blended mixture til it’s hot.
Stir in a big spoon of the horseradish to taste. Best with a side sleeve of original saltine crackers.
I’ve made this for years and it’s more filling than just a brothy soup and the horseradish kick helps clear things up and even with a nasty cold i can taste it.

+1 for Throat coat tea, the one from the brand Traditional Medicinals is absolutely the best of the genre- it’s a bit expensive and worth every cent. Be sure to follow instructions to let it steep 5-10min. I add a half mug of hot water to let it steep and then more hot water since after 5-10min it’s a bit tepid. Surprisingly it tastes really good!

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Monica Bhagwan
added 5 months ago

What an awesome bodega soup recipe!

Tina Wee
added 5 months ago

My children and I love this when we are sick (minus the fish sauce and we add extra ginger):

http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/arroz-caldo-339262

Any time I make it the pot is licked clean but it's especially tastier when you are sick!

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fuzzytop
added 5 months ago

Ramen... the spicier and garlickier, the better.

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Jane Peranteau
added 5 months ago

Growing up in the '50s, soft boiled eggs and dry toast. I still think of it as 'special' food that has curative powers.

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Smaug
added 5 months ago

There's a whole lot of kinds of sick. I very rarely get sick, but last time I did it was a lulu- there were several days when all I could get down was grape juice, something I hadn't had since I was about 12.

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Medora Van Denburgh
added 5 months ago

You remind me that when I was a kid and was staying home from school with a cold or sore throat, my mother always asked, as she headed off to work, what I'd like her to bring home. What I always craved was fresh peaches, which in cold climes in the 50s and 60s was an impossibility. Oddly, now that I could have fresh peaches any time, they aren't my go-to palliative when I'm under the weather. These days what is most comforting is hot-and-sour soup, which has the added benefit of being quick and easy to throw together when one would rather be in bed than in the kitchen.

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jamcook
added 5 months ago

Any thing that is hydrating, ( smoothies, sorbet, fruit ) and mostly, nothing you have to cook yourself!

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arielcooks
added 5 months ago

Sorry, peeps, but my UNsophisticated and UNinspiring "sickie food" is Lipton's Chicken Noodle soup!

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arielcooks
added 5 months ago

... and rice is good for diarrhea.

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tamater sammich
added 5 months ago

Broth; I keep the freezer stocked so I never run out. It's fine straight-up, but also add chopped parsley, chives, dill, maybe egg & lemon for avgolemono. Maybe shirataki noodles. I get my chicken locally, and use the feet, too.

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Barb Andres
added 5 months ago

Mac and cheese

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Rita Hoxie
added 5 months ago

Soup. Probably homemade chicken, veg and either pasta or potato.

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