What To Eat When Sick So You Can Feel Better Sooner

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If you’re feeling under the weather, these foods and drinks can help you work towards a speedy recovery. Being sick is no fun, but it does give you an excuse to enjoy all your favorite soothing, comforting meals!

If you’re feeling under the weather, we’re here to help. We can help you put together the ideal menu for when you’re sick, create your grocery list, and even arrange for those groceries to be delivered, so you don’t have to leave your cozy bed. 

From chicken soup to fruits and veggies, this post covers the best things to eat when you’re sick.

First Off: Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever?

It’s normal to have a lower appetite when you’re sick. Whether you’re dealing with run-of-the-mill cold symptoms or fighting off something a bit more severe, your body isn’t asking for quite as many calories as it normally would. However, that doesn’t mean you should follow the old “feed a cold, starve a fever” adage. In fact, this might be some of the worst eating advice for a sick person.

When you’re sick, your body needs nourishing, healthy food to keep your immune system functioning properly. Without plenty of nutrients and energy, your body will have a much harder time fighting off illnesses!

Now, Let’s Clear the Air: There’s No “Miracle Cure Food” for When You’re Sick

While we wish there was something magical and delicious that you could eat and it would instantly cure all that ails you, you already know there’s nothing like that out there. While some companies will make lofty claims about their new “superfood” and its ability to instantly cure a cold, we think it’s best not to buy into the hype. 

Instead of looking for a miracle cure, you can find the relief you need by getting plenty of rest and eating lots of healthy, nourishing foods!

What Should You Eat When Sick?

Whether you’ve got a cold, a fever, or a stomach bug, these foods can help you feel better faster.

Fruits and Veggies

Fresh fruits and veggies belong on your plate all the time! Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest and most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.

When you’re sick, fruits and vegetables can help you feel better quickly, thanks to their high water and fiber content. The fiber will make you feel full without overstuffing you, and the water helps to prevent dehydration. 

To avoid getting dehydrated, try including some high-water fruits in your diet when you’re sick. These include grapes, watermelon, oranges, and apples. 


Eating chicken soup when you’re sick is a timeless practice around the world, and there’s a reason why! 

Soups contain a broth base, which is loaded with nutrients. It’s also hot, steamy, and comforting, and it can help to soothe a sore throat and open your sinuses. Some people even drink broth on its own, but that’s optional!

When you’re feeling very under the weather, and the idea of a lot of solid food makes you want to gag, soup is a great place to start. It’s mostly liquid, which makes it easier to handle when your stomach is weak. In addition, it’ll provide you with electrolytes, which play a key role in getting your body hydrated and energized again!

Want a delicious, simple soup recipe for sick days? Try our Italian Soup! It’s packed with veggies – carrots, zucchini, onions, and fresh herbs – and will fill you up without too many heavy ingredients. It’s just the kind of meal that you need when you’re sick.

Feeling Nauseous? Snack on Some Ginger!

Ginger is a spicy root known for its ability to add some zing to your recipes. It’s also one of the most common remedies for nausea and stomach aches!

If you’ve ever had a stomach bug before, someone’s probably given you this piece of age-old advice – drink a ginger ale. While this fizzy drink is heavy on the sugar and light on the ginger, your friend was on to something! Ginger can help to soothe an upset stomach, even in small amounts.

When you want a gingery treat to make your stomach feel better, we recommend hot ginger tea or crystallized ginger – and you don’t have to wait until you’re sick to give them a try! Or, if you want to make a meal with a ginger base, try our recipe for Carrot Ginger Soup! 


Crackers are crunchy and have a bit of roughness to them, which might sound like it’d be anything but soothing to a sore throat. However, if you’ve ever had saltines on a sick day, you know crackers are the perfect snack when you’re sick.

Their rough texture can help you get some much-needed relief from a sore, scratchy throat. In addition, they’re mild enough for times when you’re feeling nauseous, which makes them a great solid food to try when you’ve mainly been living on liquids for a few days.


Not too different from soup, but different enough to mention, stew is another hot, comforting meal that is perfect for sick days. Stew is traditionally thicker than soup, and it contains more solid food than liquids. This makes it an ideal meal for when you’re closer to making a full recovery and more comfortable with substantial, solid food. 

We’re big fans of this recipe for Chicken Stew With Rice when we’re sick. Made with chicken breast, carrots, and other comforting ingredients, this stew can help you bounce back when you’re feeling worn out and run down. 

If You’ve Got a Stuffy Nose, Reach for the Hot Sauce!

When your nasal passages are clogged up, eating hot and spicy foods can help you get some relief and breathe easy again. Spicy food has a reputation for thinning out your mucus when your nose is stuffy, making it much easier to use a tissue to get all that gunk out. Gross, we know, but it’s just a fact of life – everyone blows their nose.

However, spicy foods aren’t a great choice for all kinds of illnesses. If you’ve got a stomach bug, for example, lots of spicy food is likely to make you feel worse. So, steer clear of the hot stuff when you’re sick to your stomach and save it for when you have a cold.

Oatmeal Is the Perfect Soothing Breakfast for Sick Days

If you’re feeling under the weather, a hot bowl of oatmeal is the perfect way to start the day. Oats are nutritious, soothing, and mild, and they’ll go down easy – even when you have a sore throat! Plus, they’re incredibly easy to make. Try sprinkling some berries on yours and adding a little bit of yogurt. 

What Shouldn’t You Eat When Sick?

Now that we’ve established what you should eat when you’re sick, let’s talk about what foods you should avoid! 

Tons of Caffeine

While a hot cup of coffee in the morning when you’re sick is perfectly fine, overdoing the caffeine can leave you feeling worse than before!

Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it has the potential to make you – excuse us – pee more. If you’re urinating frequently, it’s easier to get dehydrated, which can leave you feeling worn out and lethargic. To make matters worse, dehydration can worsen cold and flu symptoms!

Instead of loading up on the caffeinated drinks, stick to herbal tea and water. Herbal tea is naturally caffeine-free, and it’ll soothe your throat and warm you up when you’ve got the chills!

Fast Food

Although some convenient junk food might sound appealing on a sick day, it’s best to avoid heading to the drive-thru when you have a cold. Aside from being pretty bad for you all the time, fast food isn’t going to do you any favors when you’re sick.

Fast food meals typically contain high levels of salt, fat, and sugar, three ingredients that engage the pleasure centers of our brains. The high amounts of these ingredients in fast food can literally make it addictive, but that topic needs its own article! 

As for eating fast food when you’re sick, the main reason it’s a no-no is that it’ll weigh you down and make you feel sluggish and exhausted. You’re probably already feeling pretty worn out if you’re sick, so a greasy, heavy, junk food-filled meal is only going to make things worse.

Want More Tips, Recipes, and Extras?

If you’re looking for cooking advice and inspiration, head over to our recipe page. There, you’ll find tons of free resources for at-home cooks!