It’s the million-dollar question when you’re sick, especially with a stomach bug.
Of course, most of you know by now not to eat greasy or fried foods when sick because these types of food can just make your symptoms worse. Overindulging in highly processed and refined foods such as most canned soups or microwavable meals can also make you feel worse.
But what about the rest of your food choices? What should you include in your diet when sick?
We asked several health experts to help us compile a list of the best foods to eat when sick. We made sure their recommendations included foods that are easy on the stomach, absorbed by the body, and provide essential nutrients.
1. Ginger Tea
When you’re sick with diarrhea or vomiting, your stomach needs soothing food that can help reduce any inflammation there. “Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb that has been shown to be helpful for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease,” says Al Sears, MD, a board-certified family physician. “It’s also helpful for menstrual cramps.” Ginger tea is easy to digest and can be sipped throughout the day to help calm your stomach.
2. Chicken Soup
Soup is one of the best foods to eat when you’re sick because it contains fluids that help fight dehydration, which is common when you’re sick. “The warmth of the soup may also be comforting for some,” says Ilene Tendler, MD, a board-certified family physician in New York City. Also, try homemade bone broth to help restore your electrolytes and energy levels when sick.
3. Fresh Vegetables
When you’re sick, you may not feel like eating anything. But some vegetables are easy to digest and can help you get better more quickly. “Try carrots, celery, cucumber, or zucchini,” says Tendler. Grilled or steamed veggies are an especially good choice if you have diarrhea or vomiting.”
4. Whole-Grain Bread or Toast
Grains are often recommended for when you’re sick because whole-grain breads are easy to digest. “Whole grains are much better than processed carbs,” says Sears. Whole-wheat bread, toast, or crackers are good choices if your stomach is feeling a little off in the morning and can provide you with needed energy.
5. Bananas or Rice
Bananas can be easy on the stomach when you’re sick. They are also rich in potassium, which is lost during an illness. “This essential mineral helps to maintain normal fluid balance in the body’s cells and tissues and is needed for proper muscle and nerve function,” says Tendler. Brown rice is another carbohydrate that is easy on the stomach when sick. Rice is digested slowly, so it provides your body with needed energy without making you feel worse.
6. Broth or Sippable Yogurt
When you’re sick with a stomach bug, broth can be very soothing because it helps relieve dehydration. “Sippable yogurt is a good source of protein and calcium, which can help restore a more normal balance of the intestinal flora,” says Tendler. “Both will also help replace electrolytes like sodium and potassium.”
In conclusion, when you’re sick with a stomach bug, it’s best to stick to foods that are easy on the stomach such as the ones listed above.