Is it possible to eat healthy when sickness strikes?

Cathy Hamilton Health Guide
  • Is it, "Feed a cold, starve a fever?" Or the other way around? I can never keep it straight but I know one thing: being sick is NOT conducive to being on a diet.


    I experienced this first-hand right after the holidays and, let me tell you, when I'm feeling poorly, the LAST thing I want to do is much on a salad of healthy greens, multi-colored vegetables. I want comfort food and plenty of it! Chicken noodle soup, saltine crackers, popsicles, rainbow sherbet, Jello and baked potatoes. These are the comfort foods of my youth; the ones I always turn to when the mercury climbs on my oral thermometer.

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    After a couple days of indulging myself with all of the above (and getting no exercise, of course), I realized there are healthier options to practically every comfort food on my sick list. After a quick check of the internet (a laptop with a wireless internet connection is a life-saver when you're bed-ridden) I had the hubby running to the store in search of better-for-you alternatives:


    Campbell's has a low-sodium chicken noodle soup that provides 140 mg of sodium, 25% less than the original. With 160 calories, 4.5 grams of fat and 17 carbs, it's not a bad alternative to your grandmother's salt-laden recipe.


    Premium brand saltine crackers come in so many varieties now, my hubby had to call from the grocery store aisle to ask which one I preferred. I chose the multi-grain version over the unsalted top brand. I gained 40 mg of sodium but lost 1 carb, and I felt good about the "multigrain" part.


    Sugar-free Tropical Ice Pops by Popsicle fit the bill on a rough and raw throat and at only 15 calories and 4 carbs per pop, I enjoyed two of these per day.


    There appear to be no sugar-free sherbets on the market in our area but we found a store-brand orange sherbet offering only 120 calories,

    1 gram of fat and 20 mg of sodium. The carb count per serving was a whopping 26 so I had to enjoy this throat-soothing treat sparingly.


    Sugar-free Jello is one of those "net zero" treats you can enjoy all day long, if you wish. At a mere 10 calories per serving, I stocked up. A chilled cup of cherry sugar-free Jello cups is amazingly refreshing when you're burning up with fever.


    The baked potato gets a little dicey when you are trying to watch your

    carbs and fats. I avoid them as a rule because I can't seem to have

    the potato without the butter AND sour cream. One evening, I had a small potato with skim milk and a little light ricotta and, I have to admit, it tasted pretty darn good after a day of soup, Popsicles and Jello!


    I'm on the mend now and back on salads, fish and lots of multi-colored

    veggies. Hopefully, it will be a while before I see another Jello

    cup again. But it's good to know healthful alternatives are out there when and if another winter virus strikes!

Published On: January 13, 2008