The foods you eat during an illness can either help the healing process or slow it down. Of course, when you or your child is sick you want to speed up healing and shorten the life of the cold or flu. There are a number of foods that assist in healing and there are foods that should be avoided. The foods that are not optimal choices to eat while you are sick are also foods that should be minimized or eliminated in Winter months. Most of these foods are better tolerated in the Spring or Summer.
Cold, Iced, and Raw Foods
While a person is sick it is important to keep warm. The body needs to use all it's energy resources to fight the infection or detox the body. Keeping the body warm allows the body to work on healing and not work to keep the body warm. Just as it is important to bundle up with a coat, hat, and scarf when going outside or to stay warm under blankets its important to keep the foods that you eat warm and cooked. A cold or iced beverage cools the body down and forced the body to work hard to warm back up instead of working to heal. Raw foods take extra energy to digest because they are not already warmed before eating. During an illness, cold, iced, and raw foods should be completely avoided.
Sugar and Acidic Foods
This is probably a well known “food” to avoid. Sugar feeds infections and works against healing so it is important to avoid it. The obvious things to stay away from are desserts, cookies, cake, and ice cream. A side note on ice cream – it's possibly the worst food to eat while you are sick – its cold, sugary, and dairy (which can be mucus forming). Not only should you stay away from these obvious foods but also any kind of fruit or fruit juice. Fruit, while it is a healthy food, contains natural sugar and should be avoided while an illness is present. Fruit juice is especially important to stay away from because it is a concentrated form of the sugars in fruit. Orange juice is sometimes used as a home remedy but unfortunately it is not helpful. The sugar and acidity of orange juice supports the germs and infection and keeps them around longer. Although it is important to stay hydrated while you are sick, all juice should be avoided.
Most people who eat dairy products, eat commercial pasteurized dairy products, which lack the health promoting properties of raw dairy. All dairy products, especially pasteurized dairy, tend to increase mucus production in the body. While you are sick, foods that promote mucus production do not support healing and make you more uncomfortable. To help the body heal and promote health, all dairy should be avoided while illness is present. Years ago, before I attended The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I regularly ate pasteurized dairy products and suffered from chronic sinus infections, colds, and strep throat. After eliminating dairy products 100% for three months my problems vanished. Now, years later, I am able to enjoy small amounts of high quality raw cheese or yogurt with no problems at all.
Heavy, Dense Foods
Like raw foods, heavy and dense foods require a lot of energy to digest, taking away from the energy needed to heal. While a person is sick the body is detoxing all of the excess junk hanging around that may have been the cause of the cold or illness. Eating heavy or dense foods can inhibit the detoxing process. Some foods that are heavy, like fried food, can make a person feel sluggish even when one is well. All fried foods, thick sauces, and thick heavy smoothies should be avoided while sick.
Damp and Moist Foods
In Chinese Medicine, there is a category of foods called damp and moist foods. The digestive system is slowed down is by foods that are damp in nature and it can slow down the transformation energy. Similar to cold foods, damp and moist foods, interrupt the digestive system and takes away from the energy to heal. When a person has too much dampness the symptoms are very similar to that of a cold or flu. Symptoms could include fatigue, sluggishness, and feeling like your body is heavy. Common damp foods that should be avoided are bananas, avocados, breads, refined flour products, and coffee.
One reason why a person could get sick is over consumption of inappropriate foods. It is possible that the illness is a result of the body's need to detox and get rid of all the excess junk that has been consumed. This point is important to consider because eating less food might be what you really need. Consuming warm healing broths and warm herbal teas and less food might be exactly what you body needs to detox and reset.
What foods do you avoid while you are sick?