Feed a Fever, Feed a Cold: Eating When You’re Sick

I’m laid up with a sore throat and fever, and as such even less able to think coherently than usual. This is just the time to blog!

I’m rarely sick anymore. Especially since my college days of working three part-time jobs and running around with dubious characters ended, my immune system is bitchin’. But every so often stress and lack of sleep coincide and my body says “screw you and your beer drinking plans, we’re gonna lie on the couch and watch TLC all weekend.” Which would be fabulous except it’s really beautiful weather and I have articles that need to be written and packing that needs to be done. (More on the packing stuff later. Because, yes, I am gearing up for another move. You’ll like this one.)

I suspect I’m sick now because last weekend, I had epic days of Fun Friend Time, starting with a house show starring my favorite Missoula bands in Seattle that went til 3 a.m. and then on to Portland to see some of my favorite drinking buddies and then back to work at 9 a.m. by Monday. Also, had some mega stressballs to deal with, and they were neatly resolved on Friday morning, after which my brain and body just seem to have given out. I swear all the mysteries will be revealed. Later, when I’m more coherent.

Anyway, this is good, satisfying stuff to ease a cold, and God help you if you don’t have any on hand and need to drag your ass to the store:

Onions and garlic: I read somewhere (probably a back issue of Vegetarian Times) that onions and garlic are good for the immune system, because they have vitamin C and fancy compounds and such. They’re delicious, and pack enough flavor that I can taste them when my sinuses are all clogged. French onion soup is the best way to dose yourself with onions.

Herbal tea, preferably with peppermint, chamomile and licorice: Butterfly Herbs in Missoula sells the best cold and flu loose tea, for like $1.25 an ounce. I stock up every time I’m home. It’s got yarrow and elderflower and other herbs in it, too, and tastes kind of gross without honey, but it soothes my throat and sinuses way better than any nasty, syrupy cough drop. I used to make a big pot of this tea and fill a thermos to make it through a day of school with minimal suffering.

Echinacea tea as a preventative measure: I swear to God, as soon as I run out of echinacea tea, I get sick a few weeks later. This is either because it really works, or because of the good ole placebo effect. I like tea, so I really don’t care either way.

Animal protein: I don’t eat meat very often. Whole grains, eggs, dairy and beans are my normal sources of protein, which is great and healthy and all but when I’m sick I get very Anthony Bourdain-like in my enthusiasm for animal flesh. I made a tuna sandwich for lunch, and for dinner just now I cooked ground beef in my cast-iron skillet with onions, spooned it onto cold soba noodles, slathered on some sriracha and ate it. Delicious greasy meaty meatness.

Soup broth: The essential. Note that I don’t include processed pre-made soups like Ramen or chicken noodle, and that’s because that shit won’t make you healthy. Most storebought soup is little more than sodium and carbohydrates, and if you want to get well, you need protein, vitamins and whole grains. Even if summoning the effort sucks, you can make your own super-easy soup by sauteing diced onions or garlic, pouring in chicken stock and cracking in an egg or two.

Greens: I love greens normally, but they also rock when ill. Nutrients! My go-to sick/hungover food is egg drop soup with a bunch of chopped kale or spinach stirred in.

7-up and orange juice: Neither of these things is actually good for you, and yet, because that’s what Mom and Dad always bought us when we were sick, it’s what I buy. I can only drink so many buckets of herbal tea before I gotta switch off. My anti-sugary-drinks resistance is weakened when I’m ill, and once I’m healthy I’ll use the remainder to mix my whiskey with.

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