7 Foods That Can Make Flu Symptoms Worse (& What To Eat Instead)
Sorry, but coffee’s on the list.
byEliza CastileandJR Thorpe
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock
There's little as frustrating as huddling on your couch in a nest of blankets and used tissues, knowing there's nothing you can do to mitigate your misery — or is there? Relief may come from an unexpected corner. Oddly enough, some foods may make your flu symptoms worse without you ever realizing it. Your beloved macaroni and cheese might have betrayed you in your time of need.
"The flu often makes consuming food difficult as flu symptoms can either cause nausea or GI symptoms," Kacie Vavrek R.D. L.D., a dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Bustle. "Nausea can decrease the desire to eat and [gastro-intestinal] symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea can be triggered if food is consumed too soon."
The old adage "feed a cold, starve a fever" doesn't hold up under modern medical thought. According to Scientific American, the idea back in the day was that eating will warm you up during a "cold," while fasting cools down a fever. Eating nutrient-dense foods, though, is useful no matter what kind of sickness you've caught. In fact, it's especially important when you have a fever.
But not all food is as helpful. When you have the flu, you may want to stick to a steady diet of ice cream, toast, and chocolate milk, but comfort foods aren't necessarily going to help you get better. In fact, as Vavrek tells Bustle, you probably should avoid your favorite comfort foods, "as you might develop a dislike for these foods if consuming them when nauseated." The more you know.
Here are seven foods to avoid if you have the flu, and what to eat instead to feel better, faster.
Dr. Daniel Kahana M.D.
Kacie Vavrek R.D. L.D.
Balfour-Lynn, I.M. (2019) Milk, mucus and myths. Archives of Disease in Childhood 104:91-93.
Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211
Groves, H. T., Higham, S. L., Moffatt, M. F., Cox, M. J., & Tregoning, J. S. (2020). Respiratory Viral Infection Alters the Gut Microbiota by Inducing Inappetence. mBio, 11(1), e03236-19. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.03236-19