What (and how) to eat when you’re sick

Eat when you’re sick

When you’re feeling under the weather, it can be really hard to eat. You might not feel able to keep food down and you might not have an appetite at all. To make it easier, here’s what (and how) to eat when you’re sick.  

What to eat when you’re dehydrated 

When you’re dehydrated, you need to drink plenty of water. You’ll also want to add some electrolytes (salts) in the form of sports drinks or a bit of orange juice with added salt and sugar. Eating can be difficult when you’re dehydrated, so you should aim to eat foods (such as soup and fruit) that have high water content ratios. Also, avoid dairy products and sugary foods, as well as caffeine. 

What to eat when your gut is troubling you 

If you have food poisoning or a stomach virus, it might help to make an appointment with your GP. It can be hard to eat when you’re sick and vomiting is very unpleasant, so the earlier treatment starts, the better. If you’re not sure what’s wrong with you – or whether it’s just the ‘winter vomiting virus’ – see your GP.

If you have food poisoning or a stomach bug, it could help to stop eating all foods that might be the cause of your sickness (this includes bread, meat, and dairy products). However, do not restrict yourself from drinking fluids such as water and fruit juice – especially if you are dehydrated. 

What to eat when you’re nauseous or have a stomach ache

 If you have nausea or a stomachache, try to eat bland foods. For example, pasta with baked beans is an easy and nutritious meal that can soothe your tummy pain. You could also try eating plenty of bread or toast and drink fruit juice as well. If your nausea is worse in the mornings, it may help to eat something very mild (such as a piece of toast or some cereal) before you get out of bed.

 If you have hiccups, try drinking milk or eating some slow-digesting carbohydrates such as bread and rice. Ginger can also be helpful when it comes to hiccups – add a little fresh ginger to your tea or try taking some ginger sweets. 

What to eat when you have difficulty swallowing

 If you are having difficulty swallowing, you may have dysphagia. It’s important to let your GP know if you have dysphagia because it can be a symptom of something more serious. If you are managing dysphagia by eating soft or pureed foods, try including some well-cooked vegetables such as carrots and broccoli (that way, you’ll also get some vitamins and fiber in). You can also try a product like Simply Thick to make food easier to eat. 

What to eat when you’re sick with diarrhea 

If you have digestive problems, it can be very uncomfortable and also embarrassing if you need the toilet frequently. Drinking plenty of fluids such as water is really important when you have diarrhea, as is making sure that you eat bland foods such as pasta or rice. Avoid spicy and fried foods, fatty foods, and dairy products. It can also help to avoid caffeinated drinks (such as tea) if you have diarrhea – these can make symptoms worse.

If you have difficulty eating because of the stress of diarrhea, try gelatin or jelly – which can soothe an upset stomach. If you’re in pain, it can help to take paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce your discomfort.

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