Five Comfort Foods For When You're Sick

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Tastes like a good way.
Although a healthful diet can keep you in the pink most of the time, sickness is still a fact of life. Just as I have learned from personal experience what to eat to prevent illness, so too have I come to know what soothes me when I'm ill. Here are my five favorite comfort foods (and drinks) for a sniffly nose, sour stomach, etc., etc.

5. Yellow curry. Usually I steer clear of very spicy foods; however, when I'm stuffed up I request my Thai delivery with extra heat. In addition to containing chiles, which clear the nasal passages, yellow curry also has turmeric, well-known for its amazing anti-inflammatory properties. A couple bowls does wonders for sore throats and aching legs.

4. Orange sherbet. Don't you mean oranges, O'Leary? No. This is my comfort list, remember? If the temperature of my febrile body is only exceeded by the numbers on the local weather report (ah, Houston), I want something sweet, icy and spoon-able. It doesn't matter if sherbet contains only trace amounts of Vitamin C; the "orange" flavor still seems nutritious in my delirious state.

3. Toast. Eat it and you won't be. Har. While hydration is important when you're sick, carbohydrates are also essential for revving up that immune system. Toast is satisfying but requires little effort, a blessing when the walk from the couch to the bathroom feels like a marathon. And stick to white bread. Fiber is fine and dandy when you're well, but refined grains are easier on a harried digestive system.

2. Reed's Extra Ginger Brew. For mild GI discomfort, ginger ale is fine; for severe distress, I like to bring out the big guns. Reed's Extra Ginger Brew's high carbonation and extreme ginger flavor soothe even the most upset of stomachs and deliver a refreshing burst of non-saccharine flavor. Barfing in a blizzard? Microwave a mug for three minutes and serve with a lemon slice.

1. Matzoh ball soup. Chicken soup may be good for the (congested) soul, but I crave more something substantial than rice or noodles when I have a cold. Matzoh ball soup has all the benefits of chicken broth with the added boost from those carbohydrate comets.

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Pho isn't on this list? 

I make my guy get me either Pho Ga from Mo Mong (it's closest), the Chicken Avgolemono from Niko Nikos, the Sopa Azteca from La Mexicana, or the Chicken in a Pot from Katz's when I'm sick. (Can you tell we live in Montrose???) All work to varying degrees, though I think the Pho is probably the most effective. 

Dr. Ricky
Dr. Ricky

My grandmother would be aghast. Sherbet while sick? Never!

Actually, the standbys from my childhood include congee, tofu pudding, scrambled eggs, bananas, and various teas and tisanes. What's this about using processed foods to treat a fever?


My version of your #5 is Tom Kha Gai, doused with enough hand-ground Thai chili spice to turn it pink. Blasts the congestion right out of the nasal and sinus cavities, and yet the coconut milk is still soothing on the throat. I like to combine your #2 and #1 and make a Chinese ginger chicken soup or congee. And #4 is right on.  Good orange sherbet is the delight of the heavens.


While battling a recent bout with strep throat I ate copious amounts of Blue Bell Rainbow Sherbet. The fruity goodness was cool and soothing on my burning throat.

It's not food, man. It's medicine!!!

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