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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Ann Arbor, MI!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali See what I'm eating this week

Foods to Eat When You’re Sick with the Flu

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For the past four days, I have literally been battling the mother of all flu viruses. This thing totally knocked me out for the count – I had a fever continuously since Tuesday and I haven’t been to work all week! In the past four days, I have moved 20 feet in total – from my bed to my couch and back. I have become intimately familiar with Saved by the Bell reruns, mid-afternoon infomercials, and my husband’s sweatshirt – which acts as a snuggie because it’s 5 sizes too big for me.

And with most flu viruses, I have inherited this crazy cough, a sore throat and the works. Other than Tylenol to reduce my fever, I’m not a huge fan of most cold medications because they don’t actually kill the germs, they just suppress some of the symptoms and make you feel kind of foggy. Because of that I’ve developed a rather unique diet to help ease my sensitive flu-ish stomach and my cough/cold symptoms. I thought I’d share some of my flu-foodie-finds with all of you, in case some of you are in a similar position as me this week!

Favorite Throat-Soothing Drinks

Hot water with lemon & honey

food to eat when you're sick

I literally drink 15 cups of this every day when I’m sick. The hot water & honey soothes your throat and helps in releasing some of the icky phlegm that tends to build up when you’re sick.  This is definitely a staple when I’m trying to cure myself of the flu.

Tazo chai tea with organic 1% milk or soy milk

You can’t really go wrong with any kind of tea actually, but when I’m sick I love the spiciness of the Chai Black Teas with a little bit of milk or soy milk to top it off. Another great tea to drink when you’re sick is Green Tea with Lemon – you’ll get the benefits of hot fluids with tons of antioxidants too.

Hot 1% Milk with Turmeric & Sugar

This is one of my mom’s tried and true recipes for healing a sore throat, easing a cough, or just helping you feel better in general (it’s also an age old Ayurvedic remedy). Turmeric is a great spice because of its anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antioxidant properties. The way you make it: heat 2 cups 1% organic milk with 1/2-1 teaspoon turmeric powder, a pinch each of freshly grated ginger, sugar or honey to taste, and 1 cinnamon stick (you can also add cardamom if you like). Cook until the milk comes to a full boil. Drink it while it’s hot.


Favorite Soups

In general, I like to stick to clear broths like miso soup, veggie broth and other soups that are easy to digest. Two of my favorites are:

Butternut Squash Soup from Trader Joe’s

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup From Trader Joe’s

Classic Minestrone – There are tons of great canned minestrones that you can just heat up and eat. This is a good option if your stomach feels like it can handle some veggies & beans/cheese for protein & fiber.


Favorite Comfort Meals / Warming Meals

Oatmeal is a go-to favorite. It’s warming, filling, and easy on your stomach. I like either my Blueberry Oatmeal or my Banana Bread Oatmeal when I’m sick.

Grilled Peanut Butter Sandwiches on Whole Grain Bread – there’s just something about a hot sandwich that’s both sweet and savory that warms you from the inside out.

Other Foods For Nutrition & Health

Easy to Digest Proteins like Cottage Cheese, Greek Yogurt, or Nuts

Orange Juice (because of the Vitamin C)

Fruits and Veggies – if your stomach can handle it and you have the appetite, be sure to incorporate as many of these as you can into your diet! The antioxidants and cleansing properties will help you on your road to recovery.

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20 responses to “Foods to Eat When You’re Sick with the Flu”

  1. Hope you get well soon! I like to eat spicy food during cold and flu … somehow it cheers me up 🙂 And that lemon honey water is excellent .. i add a little ginger too !

    • Thanks so much Kankana! Love the idea of adding ginger to the water – and yes, my mom would always make me spicy food to clear up my congestion when I was sick as a kid! Great suggestion!

  2. Sorry to hear you haven’t been feeling well! I love that you use your husband’s sweatshirt as a snuggie, that would make anyone feel cozy and better! And turmeric, sugar and warm milk is a new one for me, I’ll have to try that next time I’m under the weather!

    • Thanks so much Emily!! And yes – the turmeric/milk combo is one of my favorite flu/cold remedies – you have to let me know how it works for you!

  3. Aren’t you missing out the most obvious choice? Homemade chicken noodle soup. I make mine with broccoli, carrots and rice noodles…and lots of garlic!=:))

    • Haha! You are right Mel – except I’m vegetarian so chicken noodle soup wouldn’t work for me 🙂 But yes, that is definitely one of the main “sick food” staples! Mainly because it’s hot, has a lot of broth (fluids are important when you’re sick), and it has a balanced amount of veggies and protein. Thanks for adding it to the list!

  4. How would grilled stuff make you feel better? When I have the flu, I like to avoid greasy foods. Usually eat crackers, because anything else I eat I would throw up

    • Hi Mikayla! My “grilled” pb sandwich is actually not greasy at all – it’s a faux grilled version that’s made with a light olive oil spray. But it honestly depends on the type of flu / sickness you have – I wouldn’t recommend it for a stomach flu (for example). And everyone has to figure out what works best for them. These are just my favorites that work well for me. Hope that helps!

  5. I try to avoid anything with any type of milk in it because it tends to make phlegm thicker and harder to expel. So I stick to broths and try to drink as much as I can all day and night.

    • That makes complete sense Darlene! I generally avoid regular/plain milk when I’m sick with the flu too. However, the milk with turmeric actually helps ease mucous — the turmeric counteracts the milk’s phlegm-producing capabilities and is an anti-inflammatory spice. That’s the only type of milk I’ll drink when I’m sick!

  6. I’ve been sick for the past 3 days. I finally thought of trying chai tea to ease my sore throat… Just a few sips in and my sore throat and cough is already lessening!

  7. Thank you, Anjali, for this helpful information. I wasn’t sure about Trader Joe’s vegetable broth because it’s not clear. I’m the twelfth day in and can still identify with your 20 steps maximum. I was prescribed a Z pack as a precaution (pneumonia); I suspect it’s weighing me down and affecting appetite more than the flu. I’m sorry you’re ill. It’s still weirdly reassuring that someone else who cares about good eating didn’t escape this bug. This, too, will pass. May it be soon for us both.

    • I hope you feel better soon Maryanne! You can use Trader Joe’s vegetable broth – that should be fine. Rest up and feel better!!

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