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5 Foods NOT to Eat While Sick or Battling a Cold

Elizabeth Renter
September 27th, 2012
Updated 05/24/2013 at 8:45 pm
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sicklittlegirl1 235x147 5 Foods NOT to Eat While Sick or Battling a ColdIt’s almost that time of year, where we start passing around colds like we pass around the holiday dishes. While there are numerous sources out there for natural cold remedies (garlic, ginger, hydration, etc.), it’s also good to know which foods to avoid while sick or battling a cold. By eliminating these foods, while hopefully consuming immune-boosting foods, you can recover more quickly and reduce the severity of your symptoms.

1. Alcohol

Alcohol weakens your immune system and dehydrates you. Both of these can make your colds more miserable and leave you with an even worse morning. Grandma’s hot toddy might clear things up for a short time, but take it easy and don’t overdo it. If you come down with a cold, steer clear of most alcohol in order to keep your body optimally hydrated and your immune system functioning on high.

2. Dairy Products

Dairy products may be on the fence (in small portions), as consuming them may not aggravate some while doing so to others. Dairy products can increase mucus production, and mucus is one thing you don’t need more of when you are sick. If ice cream feels good on your throat, opt for a different frozen dessert like frozen fruit bars. These will numb your scratchy throat and deliver some useful vitamin C.

3. Juice Drinks

If you enjoy juicing and make your own 100% juices—by all means, drink them! But if you reach for your run-of-the-mill orange juice when you get a cold, you’d be better off without. Average juices are loaded with extra sugar and that sugar can reduce the ability of white blood cells to fight illness. Any benefits you might get from the vitamin c are nullified by the sugar inside.

What should also be pointed out from avoiding juices is: avoid sugar.

4. Fried Foods

Stay away from excess fats when you are sick. This goes for processed snacks and fried foods. Foods high in fat produce inflammation and inflammation produces a less active immune system.

5. Fast Food and Processed Foods

Surprise, surprise – it should be most obvious to steer clear of fast food and processed foods while sick. Fast food and most processed foods are void of nutritional value; that is, they bring hardly anything to the table in terms of boosting the immune system or amplifying your health. Not only are much of these foods made from genetically modified foods, but they also contain a slew of immune-suppressing ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, MSG, artificial colors, FD&C Red #40, dimethylpolysiloxane, and much more. And despite some irresponsible hospitals serving up McDonald’s to their sick patients, that doesn’t mean these foods are any more valuable.

So this is how to prevent a cold: avoids those foods that make you sick and consume those foods that boost your immune system. When you are sick—stick with a diet of whole, fresh foods and plenty of liquids. Drink tea, eat soup, use spices like turmeric, ginger, and garlic, consume some honey, and nurse yourself back to health naturally. Generally, the worst symptoms of a cold will only last a few days when you have a high functioning immune system. So, treat your whole body with nutrition and not just your runny nose with an over-the-counter drug. 

From around the web:

  • Gluten Freedom

    I have the flu and have officially broken all the rules. I feel great btw.

  • mwh191

    Nicole, if your writing is any indication, you better stay well and go to all your classes.

  • Danielle Park

    Foods to eat when you have a cold are Beef, Chicken, Barley, Celery, Garlic and Ginger!!

  • Thomas

    A better list would be what i can eat when sick, this list eliminates most of the ‘American’ diet. While i’m smart and can think for myself. Most will just read this list and say, “so, i starve?”

  • Armin


    Really? Whats not to understand?

    Boil onion, leeks and cabbage. That is all.

  • Melanie Blinstrub

    I agree. When Im off of grains I don’t have joint pain (as a massage therapist people assume you’ll always be in pain. When grain free — almost pain free)

  • Nicole

    Thank you . It's a funny story I was pretending I was sick to not do pe and they belived it and then 1 hour after I am atachly sick . Lol :D thanks alot

  • Michael

    Wheat and most other grains should be on this list. They cause inflammation. When I stopped eating grains all of my sinus problems disappeared.



    • Clara

      How does one prepare this?

  • Avanti

    Tks. to remember it Joseph.

  • joseph

    You forgot something.

    6) Cut an onion and put it beside the bed.

    • warbaby

      Awesome, I have heard this. When my son got the flu I put onions all around the house. It worked I still am flu free.