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How do I eat when ill?

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Updated October 23, 2014 at 4:03 AM
Created March 12, 2013 at 3:56 PM

I have stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea, but probably a stomach bug that is spreading like wildfire where I live. Afraid to eat anything but chicken broth and crackers and bananas, which is what I usually do in this situation. No way to bacon, high-fat meats, eggs, nuts.....help! Thinking about going off diet for a couple days, but not crazy just a few things like cream of wheat, toast and chicken broth, tuna, then gradually back to all the veggies...not too much fiber now though until gut is better. Any advice?

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41452 · March 12, 2013 at 5:52 PM

I'm also a fan of eating to comfort when sick. I'll break out the worst paleo foods and nosh on those because they'll make me feel the best, feel less stressed, and thus heal faster. My take, but seems to jive with my experience.

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0 · March 12, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Thank you, will try some white rice, broth, etc. No point in going back to bread when I have been avoiding it so long.

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11683 · March 12, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Rice congee (like cream of wheat) is especially soothing...

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11683 · March 12, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Agreed - eat plain starches like white rice and skip the toast. Maybe some lean protein like chicken breast. Keep your fat intake minimal since it increases gastric motility.

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17103 · March 12, 2013 at 4:23 PM

Try some activated charcoal pills if you suspect food poisoning before it gets out of hand - just don't consume anything else, i.e. vitamins, near it as they'll also get absorbed.

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8 Answers

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5201 · March 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

When I have been sick in the past I usually don't feel like eating. I would say that you should let your stomach be your guide. Don't eat if you feel that you can't handle it and eat only what seems appealing. Broths are good, though, as are as much liquids as you can tolerate. If you are continuing to have loose stools the BRAT diet often helps. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, apple sauce, and toast (you might want to leave out the toast if you have gluten issues).

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11683 · March 12, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Agreed - eat plain starches like white rice and skip the toast. Maybe some lean protein like chicken breast. Keep your fat intake minimal since it increases gastric motility.

5570dd79dc6faf96153c2f6dc3bd6c85
0 · March 12, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Thank you, will try some white rice, broth, etc. No point in going back to bread when I have been avoiding it so long.

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986
11683 · March 12, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Rice congee (like cream of wheat) is especially soothing...

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1187 · March 12, 2013 at 5:04 PM

When I was sick recently I did a mixture of broth, turmeric, butter (a little) garlic. I then put an egg yolk at the bottom of the bowl/cup and poured the hot liquid onto it. Was yummy and satisfying. If you have a cold I'd add hot sauce.

Otherwise for the loose stools I'd add in some white rice or wild rice to help stop you up.

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2303 · March 12, 2013 at 4:49 PM

I find that bone broth and kombucha tea (ginger flavoured) really help me recover quickly. I avoid carbs and a lot of solid food (unless I'm very hungry) because I find it doesn't sit well with my stomach and I don't feel comfortable enough to rest. Soup, teas, broths -- repeat. Just listen to what your body is telling you and eat when you're hungry, not just bored -- which happens a lot I find when I'm not feeling great and I'm trying to take it easy and rest!

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11254 · March 12, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Fasting during an illness is likely not only the number one response that happened in the paleolithic, but it also makes sense from a biological perspective. It takes energy to process food. Your body wants to use the energy it has to fight off this illness.

There are plenty of paleo sources for simple sugars and carbs, so even if you feel you need that, don't eat cream of wheat. You can eat fruits, honey, etc...- look, pure table sugar is better than anything made from wheat. Eat some white rice if you are hungry but you don't think you can hold anything else down.

But, in general, you are better off just crawling into bed and sleeping it off.

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17103 · March 12, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Best to avoid all carbs, as they tend to turn off the immune system. Eat only what you need, broth is a great idea. Coconut oil if you can stand it also helps.

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41452 · March 12, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Having just recovered from a pretty wonky case of food poisoning last week, nothing I did was paleo and I'm not worse for it all. A lot of saltines and Powerade. I don't think I ever want to see a saltine again... I'm my experience, BRATT (extra T is for tea) works. Bland carbohydrates seem to be the key.

And when you get back to normal, expect some epic poops (since it would be a PH question/answer without a reference to poop.)

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41452 · March 12, 2013 at 5:52 PM

I'm also a fan of eating to comfort when sick. I'll break out the worst paleo foods and nosh on those because they'll make me feel the best, feel less stressed, and thus heal faster. My take, but seems to jive with my experience.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84
17103 · March 12, 2013 at 4:23 PM

Try some activated charcoal pills if you suspect food poisoning before it gets out of hand - just don't consume anything else, i.e. vitamins, near it as they'll also get absorbed.

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83 · March 12, 2013 at 4:07 PM

could you try to make homemade bone broth?

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