Hi Amy, I wanted to know if you would have any food tips for when I have a bad cold. I don't know if there are any foods that might help me overcome it easier because I've tried many, but they don't work. I've had my cold for almost a week. Thank you for taking the time to listen!

Your question is a good one. I finally just got over a nasty cold that involved body aches, sinus pressure and a wicked cough! During that time I really did not feel like eating or drinking much of anything. But, it is important that you consume enough food and drink enough liquid. The key is…don’t overeat or under eat. Your immune system will go down if you take in too much food or if you don’t eat/drink enough. Try to consume plenty of warm fluids to thin mucous secretions (tea, warm gelatin, broth based soups). The warmth and soothing nature of chicken noodle soup would be good for you during this time. Honey may also act as a cough suppressant so maybe drizzle some honey on your oatmeal or take in a little tea with honey. You may not be very hungry during this time so be sure to try to eat and drink small amounts all throughout the day. Try things like plain yogurt with fruit, dry cereal or toast, fruit smoothies or electrolyte replacement drinks.

If your cold turns into the flu and you are having trouble keeping anything down, don’t eat or drink for at least an hour after the last vomiting incident. Then try water or a flat carbonated beverage like ginger ale or lemon lime. If you are able to keep that down, try to replace lost fluids and gradually add bland foods like toast, crackers, broth-based soup, and rice as tolerated. To ensure you are not spreading germs, wash your hands using good technique and wash them often.

When you finally beat this cold, do your best to prevent getting it back! Eating a healthy diet, getting adequate physical activity and performing adequate hand washing can really reduce your risk. I suggest consuming 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. They are filled with immune boosting vitamins and minerals. Avoid a diet that is high in simple sugars. Decrease sugar laden beverages and choose water or low sugar juices (Healthy Balance juice drinks) and reduce the amount of sweets consumed (cookies, candy, pie, ice cream) and substitute with fresh fruit salads and low fat/sugar yogurt. Avoid eating high amounts of “bad” fats (red meat, butter, or processed foods like chips, doughnuts, crackers). Finally, be sure you are getting enough activity. I encourage adolescents and teenagers to participate in sports if they can or be as active after school as possible.

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