What To Eat When You’re Sick (The Power Foods Lifestyle)
It’s that time of year when many people are getting sick with a cough, fever, stuffy nose, or even the flue! It seems that no matter where we go, someone is sick and we may be susceptible to it. We do all we can to prevent sickness through our daily fueling of vitamins and minerals, but the truth is that many of us our bound to get sick when we are compromised nutritionally or emotionally.
Once sickness hits, what do you do with your Power Foods Lifestyle?
It can be hard to know exactly what your body needs, especially if you are trying to live the Power Foods Lifestyle. In Body Buddies Podcast episode #25, Kristy Jo talks about the best ways to fuel your body when you aren’t feeling your best.
*article written by guest writer, L. Petersen.
Remember that your body is a machine and needs fuel to operate. Even when you’re sick, you need to be eating solid foods and drinking a LOT of liquids, even if that means drinking gatorade.
The two main areas that she talks about are colds and upset stomachs.
If you are dealing with a cold or something minor, it is best to stick to your #PFL meals as much as possible. You can cut down the portion sizes if you need.
Above all, listen to your body. It seems we are always recommending oranges and other foods high in vitamin C for colds and this is with good reason. There is no evidence to support the claim that it will cure you, but it could strengthen your immune system and possibly shorten your cold.
Kristy Jo says: “Your body needs vitamins and minerals. These are powerhouse things that will help your body fight anything that’s trying to break down.”
When we think about all of the garbage food we are putting in our bodies on a regular basis–the fast food, the processed food, etc. –we are not providing ourselves with the tools we need to fight infection when they come. The chance for infection and disease is real, so you have to ask yourself, ‘What am I doing to prevent this through the fuel that I’m putting in my body?’
Just that alone should be incentive enough to eat the 6 servings of veggies a day like the PFL teaches. If you want to more readily protect yourself against being sick,” Kristy Jo counsels, “then get eating those veggies and fruits with the PFL carbohydrate principles in mind.”
To break down congestion, spicy foods are a great option. They may make your nose run and eyes water, but that’s because they are natural decongestants. Some spicy foods that would work well are grated chili peppers, wasabi, and horseradish.
Kristy Jo says you could even dip your saltine crackers in wasabi as it should clear up your sinuses.
If none of these appeal to you, there are also oils that can act as natural decongestants.
Should You Have Dairy?
While only a few products are even in the recommended Power Foods Lifestyle (Kristy Jo sides more prevalently with almond cheese, unsweetened non-dairy milk alternatives like almond and cashew milk), you may want to avoid dairy while sick.
There is some research showing that dairy can promote mucus production, but it is debatable. Some people claim that it’s just a placebo effect, so Kristy Jo says to just pay attention to how your body feels. If you feel that dairy could be worsening your cold, consider a dairy substitution like unsweetened almond or cashew milk.
Kristy Jo also recommends hot tea. Her favorites are Hibiscus, Mint tea, and Korean Barley Tea. The barley tea specifically has a rich, grainy taste, which she says is great when you are sick. She explains that when you are sick, you want sugary comfort food, but “that is the worst thing you can do for your body. Sugar will feed your infections.”
Yerba Mate, hot Apple Cider Vinegar with stevia, and Lavender are also helpful potions to soothe a sore throat without adding a lot of sugar. Use Stevia or honey for sweetener if needed.
Kristy Jo is prone to bronchitis in the winter, and her mom used to make her a warm drink to help her feel better. All you have to do is warm up almond, coconut or soy milk for about 1:00-1:30 then drop in 1-2 Tsp of raw honey or Stevia (to taste) and sprinkle some cinnamon and nutmeg. It makes a great tea. (It also works as a great comfort food that is good to drink even when you aren’t sick.)
If you are throwing up, eating might not sound pleasant but it’s best to try and have some solid food in you. Kristy Jo suggests crackers and toast because the high starch will help stabilize your digestion. She says that if you’re sick, don’t worry about whether it’s wheat or white. You just need to get something in you.
She reminds us not to butter the toast though, because fats are more difficult to digest and that can trigger stomach pain. Throwing up and dehydration sets your electrolytes off, so Kristy Jo also recommends working to replenish those. The usual go-to is gatorade, but Kristy Jo recommends trying coconut water, Elete electrolytes with Stur or True Lime natural water flavoring, and eating bananas and avocados.
The high potassium in bananas and avocados will replenish the electrolytes and they are mild enough to not upset your stomach.
Popsicles are also popular when you are sick, but Kristy Jo reminds us that “these companies try to trick you into thinking they are healthy for you.” Turn over that label and see that the sugar content is really not that low and the fruit juice from real fruit may not be that high. Be an informed consumer.”
If you have a popsicle with 100% fruit juice, it’s better than many others but it still may contain a lot of sugar. She says our best option is to make our own “Protein Popsicles.” Just mix protein powder with almond milk in a popsicle tray and freeze them. That way you still have something to suck on when you’re sick, but without the sugar. You do not want to overload on carbs when you are throwing up because they are hard to digest.
“Be careful and be sure to still follow the power foods lifestyle guidelines for carbohydrates.”
Weight Loss when Sick
Next, Kristy Jo addresses weight loss when sick. She says that weight is irrelevant. It is a horrible measure of body composition, especially when you are in such a fragile state. If you are dehydrated and haven’t been able to eat as much, of course your weight has changed, but it will fluctuate.
She says, “Do not step on the scale when you’re sick. Not until you’ve gone through at least two days of normal eating should you think about it. It’s not worth it.”
When you start feeling better, glycogen and fluid levels will fluctuate 4-10 pounds. You most likely didn’t gain weight, your body is just in a different environment.
Mental Side of Being Sick
The mental part of being sick is tough! If you are in training or working to lose weight especially, it is so hard to think “I was on a roll, I’m ruining everything I worked for, this is a major setback,” etc.
Kristy Jo says that she wants you to be very careful falling into that mentality.
“Your body has times where it can go-go-go, but it also has periods of relaxation and repair,”she said. Sometimes you need that downtime. You have to let your body ebb and flow with these things. Your body is mortal–be kind to it and respect the fact that it is susceptible to sickness.”
The main idea Kristy Jo wants us to take away from this is that your body is a machine–an amazing machine. Being sick is hard, but hopefully these strategies will help ease it and help you feel better in no time. Pay your body the respect it deserves by fueling it accordingly and living that #PFL!