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Best Foods To Eat When You Are Sick

Updated on October 13, 2019
SueM11 profile image

Sue is a mother and grandmother living in sunny Malaysia. Like many Malaysians, she is passionate about food.

Light Food Is The Best

What is your favourite food when you are sick? There are some foods that are easy to eat and digest. Try the BRAT diet to help your recovery. Some foods are definitely not to be considered when I am not well. This list may not look interesting at all. In fact it is down right boring but when I am sick it is some of the best foods for me!

Not up to cooking? Why not get food delivery of something light and nutritious like porridge from Hon Kee Porridge.

Here is my list of what to eat when sick. They may be your food when sick too.

What To Eat When Sick

The best food is light and bland. Light foods seem to work best whatever the ailment. Often the doctor will also advise against rich, heavy and spicy food.

# 1. ABC Soup - Light Nutritious Food

Easy as ABC to cook with protein to fight off the flu and strengthen the immune system

I love soups and more so when I am not well. They are easy to consume and nutritious as well.

The soup will provide you with the liquids to keep you hydrated, protein to strengthen your immune system to fight off whatever ails you.

ABC soup is what I eat when sick. I am not sure how the name came about though there are various theories about it. Some say because it is easy as ABC to make while others say it was first thought of by the ABC( American Born Chinese).

This is a simple homemade soup made from chicken or pork ribs. Sliced large onions, sliced carrots, tomatoes and potatoes make up the rest of the ingredients. I like to use a chicken as it is quicker to cook and the meat is tender and light to eat.

Recipe for ABC soup

Photo courtesy of


# 2. Plain Chicken Soup

A nutritious comfort food

If you don't fancy any solid food then a simple chicken soup is what you need. A simple and easy recipe where you can use a quarter chicken and adding an onion and a quarter carrot to flavor the soup.

Sometimes I have the soup with some cooked rice and it makes a tasty light meal. You can choose whether you want to eat the chicken meat or not.

If you stay in the Petaling Jaya or KL area and are not up to cooking, you can order some tasty soup from "Taang Shifu" and have your food delivered from the nearest restaurant in your area.

Feed A Cold, Starve A Fever

Why A Lost Appetite When We Are Sick?

Starve the bacteria

When a person gets sick, the immune system of the body responds by pumping out hormones that end up in the brain. These hormones trigger a fever, changes the sleep-wake cycle and cause a lost appetite. This is the reason why we so often feel sleepy when we are sick explains Doctor Clifford Saper, neurosurgeon at Bethesda Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Losing your appetite especially when you are sick with a bacterial infection is good. Bacteria thrive on glucose and when a person is sick and stops eating there is less glucose and the bacteria starve to death. Our bodies adapt to the lack of food by using up the stored fat to keep the metabolism going.

The BRAT Diet

Have you heard of the BRAT diet?

BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast.

These are all very easily digestible foods that won't bother a sick stomach and suitable food for sick people.

BRAT Diet For Recovery

Great food for sick people

A BRAT diet is a bland-food diet which can help a person recovering from an upset stomach or diarrhea. One of the reasons is because it includes binding foods that are low in fiber which can help the stool become firmer. The diet includes bananas which are high in potassium and helps replace nutrients lost through vomiting or diarrhea.

Other foods which can be added to the BRAT diet include crackers, boiled potatoes and clear soup. Both adults and children can go on the BRAT diet for a short period to help the body ease into regular eating.

# 3. Minced Pork Rice Congee

A Chinese favorite food for the sick

This is one of my family's favorite food for anyone who is not well and have a lost appetite for their regular meals. We like to call it porridge but it is actually rice congee.

You boil the rice in a large saucepan with many times its water until the rice breaks down and becomes a fairly thick white porridge. Once the porridge is done, add in the minced pork with some ginger slices and let it cook for a few minutes. Add in salt and pepper. You can sprinkle some spring onions if you like. It is light and easy to eat.

Instead of minced pork, you can add in minced chicken or fish slices. Be sure to add in finely sliced ginger especially when you cook with fish. This will help to remove the fishy smell.

More on rice congee

If you are in the PJ and Bangsar areas, you can even get Kitchen On Wheels to deliver from Honkee Porridge.

Photo courtesy of

Rice congee is a great alternative for those who are looking for gluten free food as rice does not contain any gluten.

Try brown rice or parboiled rice for a healthy type of rice.

You can have rice congee even when you are not sick.

# 4. Toast With Some Peanut Butter

When I am feeling nauseated, something dry like toast seems to be the best. Spread a bit of peanut butter and it can help to fill the stomach. This will help when you need to take medication with food.

How To Help People Eat Food When Sick - From FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations or FAO has come up with some guide lines in feeding sick people to help them recover quickly. Sick people need to eat well and drink plenty of fluids to help fight infections.

  1. Feed a sick person small portions of food frequently especially if the person is not hungry. Give snacks between meals.
  2. Give plenty of water to drink every 1-2 hours. It can be boiled water, fresh fruit juice, coconut water, soup or watery porridge. This is because sick people often lose more water due to diarrhoea or fever.
  3. Give easy-to-eat foods but include energy-rich and nutritious foods like fish, eggs, milk and poultry. Add dry milk powder to porridges and other foods.
  4. Feed when the sick person has a low temperature.
  5. Keep water and food nearby if a person has to stay in bed.

# 5. Cream Crackers

Another dry food that I look for when I am not well and lack of appetite are biscuits. One good thing about biscuits is that you can take your time eating it. A bite at a time seems to be the way I eat my biscuits when I am sick.

Crackers are one of my favorite and handy snack foods when sick. The plain, non-oily ones works best for me. You can eat them plain or dunk them in a hot drink.

Sick days
Sick days

# 6. Hot Chocolate

Comfort food for sick people

A hot drink is a great food when anyone is sick. I am not sure why but the warm fluid just brings a good feeling. Hot chocolate can be filling too especially when made with a good amount of milk. A hot drink and a good rest will help speed up the recovery.

This comfort food when sick is also great for kids. You can also slip in a spoonful of honey for the child who is having nighttime coughing and having problems sleeping.

" The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink (cocoa) permits a man to walk for a whole day without food. "

Montezuma - Aztec Emperor (1803-1873 )

Hot chocolate
Hot chocolate

# 7. Sandwiches

Soft, light food when sick

Sandwiches provide a good source of nutritious food when sick. They are easy to prepare and consume. They can be just simple cheese, ham or egg sandwiches depending on what you feel like eating. They can be eaten slowly and still be as fresh. More often than not, it is hard to eat a complete meal at one sitting when a person is not well.

Egg Sandwiches
Egg Sandwiches | Source

# 8. Cereal

A bowl of cereal is delicious when there in not much appetite for other more filling foods. Maybe it is because it is a light and easy to eat food when you are sick. The plain ones are the best rather than sugar coated cereals.

Try some oatmeal and other whole grain cereals when you are sick as they provide nutrients to help the immune system like zinc, selenium and beta-glucan.

Cereal | Source

# 9. Noodle Soup

When on the road to recovery a bowl of noodle soup tastes great. It can be made with chicken stock and rice vermicelli. It is light, not oily and does not have too rich a flavor so it is easy to consume. Cooked with some meat and vegetables they provide a nutritious meal.

Noodle soup
Noodle soup | Source

# 10. Fruits

Fruits are sometimes easier to eat than other more solid foods when feeling under the weather. I find an apple much more appetizing than the normal meal. Other good fruits to eat are pears and bananas. They provide fiber and vitamins and are easy to digest.

Bananas are easy on the stomach when you are sick. They are one of the fruits in the BRAT diet.


For A Speedy Recovery

Being sick can be a misery. Having light food is one of the ways to help towards a speedy recovery. Other factors to consider are

1. Plenty of rest - Getting a good long rest in a cool room with the curtains drawn makes me feel much better.

2. Drinking lots of fluids.- Our bodies lose a lot of water when we have a fever or are vomiting and have diarrhea.

Why our bodies need water

3. Avoid rich foods to help easier digestion.

4. Taking multivitamins and especially Vitamin C to boost immune system.

© 2010 Sue Mah


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