Please help feed me.
May 27, 2019 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been sick for the past week with some kind of viral infection. I have body aches, fatigue, fever, and lately no appetite. I’m also throwing up bile from time to time. I'm taking Tylenol for the fever and Zofran for throwing up. i haven’t been able to eat much of anything the past couple days - everything grosses me out. Friday, my boyfriend made chicken soup stock and I had a bit of that. The thought of eating that again makes me want to hurl. (The doctor recommended a fatty broth.) I don't want hot tea.

I seem to do best with very cold things and I’ve been drinking coconut water, Perrier, and cold, flat water. I don’t want ginger ale or apple juice - too sweet. I also don’t want any more applesauce. I bought fresh cut pineapple and watermelon on Saturday and they were like manna from heaven (in small quantities) but now I don’t want that either.

I have ice cream, yogurt (I forced a Chobani down yesterday), saltines, kombucha (that I take a small sip from a few times a day) but I don’t really want dairy.

I missed a few days of work last week and I really need to be able to go to work tomorrow.

What simple foods can i eat?
posted by shoesietart to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I had a horrible stomach bug, I was eventually able to suck on grape popsicles (real grape juice)- maybe too sweet for you, but I found them really good when I wanted nothing else. Maybe frozen grapes? It sounds like you still might be contagious, so if you can work from home, please don't subject others to the same thing...
posted by pinochiette at 9:09 AM on May 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Pedialyte, gatorade, etc. You can cut them with water to make them less sweet. Plain toast.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 9:18 AM on May 27, 2019 [10 favorites]

Rice and seaweed help me when I can't eat anything else. Popsicles, ice cream, ginger ale, saltines if you can have gluten. Cheerios or Chex. Bananas.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:19 AM on May 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

The BRAT diet can work well (minus the applesauce since you are tired of it).

Bananas - maybe less ripe so they aren’t too sweet? you can chill/freeze small pieces since cold is working better for you.

Steamed rice or plain congee - a tiny bit each of butter and soy sauce for flavor.

Toast - go with sliced white bread.

consider pureeing the watermelon and drinking the juice with a squeeze lemon or lime to cut the sweetness.
posted by jenquat at 9:21 AM on May 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

What about cold tea? Can your boyfriend make a big batch of any unsweetened tea you like and chill it?

When I have nausea I like sour things (well I always like them) to kind of cut through the nausea. Sour Patch kids do the candy trick, or for savory, pasta w rice vinegar.

Outshine fruit bars?
posted by mermaidcafe at 9:30 AM on May 27, 2019

Bananas are good. Cut them into chunks & freeze them if you're liking cold things. If you have a a strong enough blender food processor puree them frozen & you have "nice cream"

I know you said you don't like sweet, but maybe there is a flavor you like suck on hard candys. You'll find getting your blood sugar levels up can help make you feel like eating again
posted by wwax at 9:34 AM on May 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Risotto, probably very broth-y, maybe no cheese. Use as much chicken broth to make it as you can. Or rice pudding
Scrambled egg, on or with toast, or a biscuit or a scone
Noodles in reduced chicken broth
Canned peaches, mandarin oranges or pears, maybe in some jello
Cinnamon toast
Freeze juice in paper cups.

Tiny portions, as even ordinary or small portions may be off-putting. At this point, you need calories, so very frequent tiny portions may work.
posted by theora55 at 9:46 AM on May 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

If you can stand rice in some form (congee/jook is great for a recovering stomach, but may feel too close to the chicken stock) it's a good way to get some bulk in your stomach--in my experience the lack of appetite becomes sort of self-reinforcing, but getting some starchy food down can interrupt the cycle and then other things start to become more appealing. If cold stuff is easier, then sticky rice or rice pudding (maybe with coconut milk so non-dairy?) could be an option, if it's not too sweet. Pasta or baked/mashed potato with a little bit of butter and salt is another option for getting some carbs. If the saltines are unappealing, maybe pretzels instead, or a bagel with butter instead of cream cheese?

Ginger and peppermint are both good for nausea, so iced tea or popsicles (brew some peppermint tea and make your own, with a little sugar for energy) or sorbet in either of those flavors might help.

For protein, a few bland, cold snacks that I'm usually able to get down when I'm not feeling well are string cheese (it's not too creamy, so might work even if you don't feel like dairy), a handful of almonds or pistachios, and sliced avocado with a little bit of seasoning. Eggs are good, too, although I find cold hard-boiled eggs kind of stomach-turning when I'm not feeling well--a scrambled egg mixed into some rice usually works better. A simple omelette might also be an option.

Raw vegetables may too much work for a delicate stomach, but since you managed to the fresh fruit, you could try baby carrots/carrot sticks, maybe with some hummus or dip. And consider frozen grapes or blueberries if you want more fruit.
posted by karayel at 9:52 AM on May 27, 2019

I would find a different pain reliever than tylenol if you are having liver complications, (throwing up bile.)

I had something for a week once, my daughter and I had it. I had to stay in a motel for two days because I couldn't drive 110 miles back to SLC. After two days of jasmine tea with honey, and tossing bile into the shower, I bought a Mexican guava popsicle. I swear by Mexican fruit popsicles for recovery. The convenience store clerk said her mother gave her guava when her stomach was bad. So I went with that, it worked to get me home. Real fruit popsicles have fructose which along with glucose, are given as an anti nausea med.

Best to you.
posted by Oyéah at 9:54 AM on May 27, 2019 [7 favorites]

Cold V8 or cold tomato juice?

Cold green juices?
posted by Hypatia at 10:01 AM on May 27, 2019

There are good answers here, but I just wanted to say having an empty stomach will make you feel even more nauseous. Whatever you can stand, eat a few bites and wait a half hour. Repeat. It will really help. Just take it slow and resist the desire to ignore food. Good luck. I've been there and it's miserable.
posted by Bistyfrass at 10:04 AM on May 27, 2019 [12 favorites]

Make really good batches of rice and mashed potatoes (I prefer mine buttery, lemony, with lots of salt and pepper, maybe even some grated Parmesan thrown in) and then stick them in the fridge for later. I ate both of these cold after wisdom tooth surgery when I was feeling awful and they tasted great.
posted by sallybrown at 10:22 AM on May 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

No-prep-required: soda crackers and dry breakfast cereals. Tiny bit of prep: soft-scrambled egg and/or dry toast. Hope you feel better soon.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 10:34 AM on May 27, 2019

Pedialyte ices for kids might be good. Calories are good but electrolytes and hydration are the biggest issue.

Apple juice with water in a 1/4 ratio is pretty good and has some sugar in it but isn't overwhelmingly sweet. Same with gatorade.

If you want to keep trying broth, canned grocery store broth---not the fancy organic kind---is better because it is really flavorless. Homemade broth is great but I found it a little too flavorful.

Beef broth might also be up your alley. (Again, look for canned, super bland broth). You can water that down quite a bit, too.

In terms of rice, you can see if the grocery store has microwave rice packets that you can take to work. For a while I did microwave rice in half hot water, half broth as a sort of makeshift soup, and that worked okay.

It's hard to tell if things are off the list because you don't have an appetite for them or because they are making you sick. Sorry if you have already thought of this, but if it is more about not having an appetite, you might just have to literally count bites, or set a timer and eat when it goes off. I know this sounds totally horrible and I'm so sorry to suggest it. Foods with electrolytes and electrolyte replacement formulas are likely to be a good choice, as are plain rice, crackers, applesauce, and things like that.

In my experience with little kids, dairy is the number one thing to avoid. I don't know why but it seems to be harder to digest when you are sick, so I agree to keep avoiding dairy.

Sorbet might be okay, especially if you can find a low-sugar sorbet that is more like an ice.

I'm really sorry. I hate to tell someone to do something like set a timer and force themselves to eat in order to get through a work day. I wish you could just rest and get better. :/
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:43 AM on May 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

One thing I crave when ill is mashed potatoes & gravy. The KFC variety is salty and satisfying.
posted by theora55 at 10:56 AM on May 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Maybe try lentils simmered with ginger, like a super plain dal? Good at most temperatures, I did this when I had a stomach thing a while back and needed more protein.

Tofu is also a good protein and its flavorless quality might be a boon right now. You can eat it plain and cold in slices, with a little soy sauce. I have been known to do this even when not sick.

Iced peppermint tea is delicious and can help settle an irritated throat which it sounds like yours might be.

Avoiding dairy is probably smart. Depending on where you are you might be able to find sorbet that's less sweet, or something like a granita. Avoid citrus because you probably don't want the acid right now, but look for flavors like mint, ginger, or pear.
posted by Mizu at 10:57 AM on May 27, 2019

My household has been ravaged by stomach crud for over a month and change. We all got sick multiple different rounds. You have all my sympathy. We have eaten a small village's worth of plain rice and cubed up tofu with a little soy sauce. Just constantly. We kept a big Tupperware full in the fridge and heated it up tiny amount by tiny amount. That, saltines and Pedialyte/Gatorade were all any of us was eating for a while.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:02 AM on May 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

It won't give you calories, but maybe cucumber, since you mention cold + not wanting sweet.

My friend had a bad stomach illness a few years ago and the only thing she (previously a vegetarian) found appealing was turkey breast cold cuts.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:24 AM on May 27, 2019

Oh, I feel for you. Here's what works for me, and I'm queasy quite often from medical stuff:

Plain bagel, just a few bites at a time. It has a little bit more density to it, which seems to counteract the bile quite handily.


If you could handle watermelon, perhaps fresh cold strawberries?

Total agreement on the fruit popsicles.

Ice cold lemon water.
posted by mochapickle at 11:57 AM on May 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

You're going to feel significantly worse while your electolytes are messed up. I use nearly flavorless drops (my brand is Lyteshow, but there's also Hilyte, Daylyte, Flyby which is promoted as a hangover cure, Liquid IV etc) for runners, and I have to order it but you might find one of them at a sporting goods/running store. But my fallback (and always kept on hand) is Pedialyte popsicles, which don't come frozen, tell your boyfriend to look in the baby food section next to the bottles of Pedialyte, they usually come in a cardboard box.

If you're skewing to cold food, maybe rice pudding made with non-dairy milk (ideally fatty coconut milk but that might be Too Much just yet)? Or maybe start it as coconut rice, and then sweeten small servings with honey or sugar as you feel ready. I agree with the principle of eating maybe two spoonfuls and going back to bed, try another two spoons in 15-20 minutes, you should eventually hit an equilibrium where you either want to eat more or at least feel more up to eating something different.

My starter foods are usually either rice or instant mashed potatoes (the kind made from 100% dehydrated potato, no other stuff).
posted by Lyn Never at 12:01 PM on May 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don’t have much to add here except to +1 those who say to keep eating small amounts of whatever will stay down. If you think you absolutely must go back to work than focus on staying hydrated and use watered down versions of electrolyte drinks to tide you over until you can get home. And ask at work if there’s a place you can lie down if you’re feeling really nauseated. I found being able to be horizontal when feeling sick to my stomach helped tremendously to get through it and move onto the next thing.
posted by drossdragon at 12:05 PM on May 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hydration is the first concern. Try oral rehydration solution. Pour it into a measuring cup so you can track how much you're drinking, if you don't feel thirst.

The above recipe doesn't provide potassium or citrate. If you have potassium chloride, often sold as sodium-free salt, you can add 1.5 g/L. If you have trisodium citrate dihydrate, sometimes sold for making cheese melt, you can add 2.9 g/L. (These numbers are from the WHO's most recent ORS recipe.)

I like to make my ORS using water which I have boiled with minced ginger first. I suspect this is a hack to get people to boil their drinking water, but it tastes good. I measure the water after boiling so that I don't have to worry about boiling off too much water and making my ORS hyperosmolar. That would be bad.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 12:15 PM on May 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

When the Dreaded Galloping Crud attacks....
Pedialyte. Crushed ice. Plain lukewarm water. Throw some salt and sugar in the water as needed. Maybe some tea.
BRATE -- bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, eggs. Hawaiian sweet rolls, one pinch at a time and the rest of the roll in a Ziploc until it is eaten.
Sometimes I can eat soup, but that's not guaranteed.
Frozen berries, one berry at a time.
Sucking on hard candies, particularly if I can spit them out when they become a problem. Lemon drops and Lemonheads, Werther's, Lifesavers, peppermints.

Absolutely nothing milk-based. I can eat cheese, but not yogurt, ice cream, sauces and gravies, etc. Nothing with mayonnaise.
Tomato-based things are not my friends.
Nothing that hurts worse going back up.

Wrapping up in towels on the shower floor for a long, lukewarm soak. Taking long naps with an empty basket and a box of tissues nearby. Switching up the aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Daquil and Robitussin.
Good luck with this.
posted by TrishaU at 5:26 PM on May 27, 2019

This might seem weird, but try herbal infusions. They take time to make, but they're a good way to get water, along with minerals and protein in a form that's super easy on the stomach and easy to digest.

Bonus: taste good, not sweet, not dairy. Try the nettle.
posted by mrgoat at 7:07 AM on May 28, 2019

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