What to eat when flu hits

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It’s been 11 days, and I am still recovering from a nasty bout of flu. I understand it started early this year, and a lot of folks I know have been sick.

My flu completely stole my appetite. The smell of food made me feel sick, and actually eating sent me to the necessary room quickly.

I know, too much information.

But I want to share a couple of comfort foods that got me through the ordeal. This also serves as my excuse for not writing a food feature lately. I’ve got some great ideas and will be back on track soon.

Since I am trying not to eat wheat, I had no bread or crackers on hand. And staying away from sugar, I didn’t even have my emergency ginger ale.

The smell of chicken broth was just wrong.

I stuck with my overnight oatmeal for breakfast, using 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 milk, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1 tsp. honey and fresh blueberries. It softens as it soaks overnight, and I could get some of that down.

I had some ramen noodles with just about one-third of the seasoning packet.

The first thing that tasted good to me was an egg scrambled in a little butter and liberally salted.

Then my husband got some bread and I had an egg on toast.

Toast is a rare thing for me now and I really miss it. A warm piece of toast can be the perfect base for some peanut butter, a little Nutella, maybe some local jelly.

I remember being sick from radiation treatments when I was a child, and the only things I could eat were little dinner rolls with butter and currant jelly or tiny ground beef patties, before sliders were a thing.

But the best thing I had that finally settled and made me feel somewhat stronger was a baked potato with butter, grated gouda cheese and a little deli ham.

I was so hungry I devoured it, and it was soft, warm and non-threatening to my stomach.

The other thing that worked was potato soup. Now I was not strong enough to make my own, but used a canned variety. Next time, I’ll boil a couple more potatoes and add a little milk to enrich the soup.

Let me share some recovery tips, too.

Water tasted horrible to me, full of chlorine. It made my throat sore.

Hot tea was my friend. Regular Lipton tea, with a little sugar and either lemon or milk warms you up from the inside and helps loosen some of the junk in your throat and chest. Coffee is too acidic.

If you don’t like tea, try warm water with honey and lemon.

Orange juice was good. If it seemed a bit sour, I added a little water.

Did your mother give you Coca-Cola for an upset stomach? It’s the only time I can drink a fully-sugared soft drink.

Doctor says try ginger ale, but get as many of the bubbles out of it as you can. Ginger soothes the stomach. I also have a lemon ginger tea.

What I was missing was protein — though the eggs were a step in the right direction. Some people can manage a little poached chicken or slices of turkey, and a few nuts, perhaps almonds, might help with the protein.

Plain Greek yogurt can be beefed up with some strawberries or other fruit and protein  powder.

Applesauce can help you build up vitamin C, and it can be warmed up or eaten cold. If you warm it up, add a little ginger and cinnamon to help open up passages.

A simple baked sweet potato is packed with vitamins, especially A, which boosts immunity. Top it with a little butter or olive oil and salt, but skip the extra sugar.

Add a banana to that overnight oatmeal to fortify your immune system and add potassium.

And if you’re staying away from carbs, substitute cauliflower soup for potato soup, or mash your cauliflower with a little cheese and ham.

If you don’t feel up to Gatorade, which can be a bit much, try Pedialyte, gentler on the stomach. It doesn’t always taste great, but you must stay hydrated.

I’m slowly adding more foods back to my diet, and even managed a small salad the other night.

And I’m going to get a flu shot.