They might not have the best appetite when they’re sneezing, coughing or have a stomach bug, but there are healthy foods to feed your kids when they’re sick that may help them feel better faster.
It’s only two months into the school year but both of my kids have been sick a handful of times. I’m constantly telling them to wash their hands and keep their hands away from their faces but since they’re swapping germs back and forth all day in school, I know getting sick is inevitable. I usually make them some toast with a little bit of butter (yes, I think butter in moderation, is OK) or chamomile tea with honey like my mom used to give me.
When your kids are sick, always use your best judgment. If you’re unsure whether it’s a minor cold or something more serious like the flu, make a call to the pediatrician.
Then when your kid’s ready to eat, here are some healthy foods to try.
1. Chicken soup
No surprise here. Chicken soup is a traditional, go-to remedy for colds. A few studies over the last 2 decades suggest chicken soup may improve congestion and reduce inflammation but experts say there’s no conclusive evidence that it works.
Whether it has a placebo effective or not, chicken soup is comforting for kids when they’re sick and is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals which can help kids feel better. Since they may also lose fluids if they have a fever or are sweating, or become dehydrated from not eating or drinking enough, chicken soup can replenish what they lost.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends kids under 6 not take over-the-counter cold and cough medicines so if you’re looking for something natural, honey might do the trick. Of course, you should never give honey to babies under a year old because of the risk for botulism. A traditional remedy for a sore throat, research suggests honey may also relieve a cough.
If your kid has diarrhea, experts recommend the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Although your kids should avoid dairy while they’re still having symptoms, yogurt and kefir, two sources of probiotics, can help to restore the healthy bacteria in the gut.
Be sure to read labels and avoid brands that have lots of sugar because they can make symptoms worse.
For upset stomach, nausea, gas and diarrhea, ginger is anti-inflammatory and can ease symptoms. If you buy ginger ale, be sure to read labels because most brands don’t contain real ginger. Instead, try non-alcoholic ginger beer, make your own ginger-infused water or ginger simple syrup.
Known for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal effects and its ability to boost the immune system, garlic can be an effective remedy for colds and infections. Add garlic to soup or hot water to make a garlic “tea” or spread minced garlic with a bit of olive oil on a piece of toast.
Strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries are fiber-rich and contain vitamins and minerals. Berries are also rich in anthocyanins, flavonoids that may have immune-boosting effects.
Avocado is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals your kids need when they’re sick. Avocado is also a great source of oleic acid, a fatty acid and diets rich in healthy fats are known to reduce inflammation and may boost immunity.