What to eat when I am sick?

Eating and drinking can be a big problem when you’re sick but it’s important to stick to your normal meal plan if you can. In addition to your normal meals, drink lots of non-caloric liquids to keep from getting dehydrated.

What if you can’t stick to your normal meal plan? Your sick-day plan should contain a meal plan. Try to take in your normal number of calories by eating easy-on-the-stomach foods like regular (non-diet) gelatin, crackers, soups and applesauce.

When your stomach is upset, try to eat small meals. Try carbohydrates, such as:

  • Bread
  • Cooked cereal
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodle or rice soup
  • Saltines
  • Gelatin (such as Jell-O)
  • Graham crackers

Many foods have the right amount of carbohydrates (about 15 grams) for your sick-day diet. Remember, on sick days it is OK to eat some foods you might not normally eat, if you cannot eat your regular foods. Some foods to try are:

  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup regular soft drink (non-diet, caffeine-free)
  • 1 Popsicle (1 stick)
  • 1 slice of dry toast
  • ½ cup cooked cereal
  • 6 saltine crackers
  • ½ cup frozen yogurt
  • 1 cup Gatorade or sports drink
  • ½ cup regular ice cream (if you are not throwing up)
  • ¼ cup sherbet
  • ¼ cup regular pudding (if you are not throwing up)
  • ½ cup regular gelatin/Jell-O
  • 1 cup yogurt (not frozen), sugar-free or plain
  • Milkshake made with ½ cup low-fat milk and ¼ cup ice cream mixed in a blender (if you are not throwing up)

If you throw up, do not drink or eat anything for 1 hour. Rest, but do not lie flat. After 1 hour, take sips of soda every 10 minutes.

Fluids you can drink if you are dehydrated are:

  • Water
  • Club soda
  • Diet soda (caffeine-free)
  • Tomato juice
  • Chicken broth

If your blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL or falling quickly, it is OK to drink fluids that have sugar in them. Try to check their effect on your blood sugar, the same way you check how other foods affect your blood sugar.

Fluids you can drink if your blood sugar is low:

  • Apple juice
  • Orange juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Gatorade or other sports drink
  • Tea with honey
  • Lemon-lime drinks
  • Ginger ale

If you have already taken your insulin and are sick to your stomach, drink enough liquids with the same amount of carbohydrates that you would normally eat. If you cannot keep food or liquids down, go to the emergency room for treatment. You will receive fluids through a tube in your blood vessel (intravenous).

Late night snacks

If you love to have late night snacks remember to make the right choices.

Late-night snacks add extra calories to your daily intake, and this can lead you to gain weight. If you have a snack at night which is rich in carbohydrates you may wake up with a high blood sugar level.

So try to choose a “free” food, such as:

  • A can of diet soda
  • Five baby carrots
  • Two saltine crackers
  • One vanilla wafer

Or swap the snack for a piece of gum or hard candy. These “free” foods have few, if any, carbohydrates and calories, so they won’t contribute to weight gain or increased blood sugar.

If you take insulin or other diabetes medications and must snack before bedtime to prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during the night, talk to your doctor. He or she may adjust the dose of your medications to prevent the need for a late-night snack.