Expert Q&A

Sick with fever: What should you eat?

What should I eat when I am sick with a fever?

When you have a fever, your body is trying to kill a viral or bacterial infection by increasing the internal temperature. Enzymes in cells and white blood cells work faster at higher temperatures. You can help your body fight off an infection by staying warm, resting, drinking plenty of water, and not eating.

Most people are not hungry when they have a fever, and it is a good idea to listen to the body and give the digestive system a rest when sick with a fever. The body’s immune system is busy. Let it do its job without distraction.

Drink plenty of clean water. Viruses and bacteria grow better in dehydrated cells. White blood cells function better and toxins are removed more easily when the body has all the water it needs.

Decrease sugar intake, including soda, any type of undiluted fruit juice, honey, and natural and refined sugars. When sugar is present, white blood cells are slower at killing bacteria. Orange juice specifically tends to increase congestion in many people. To further assist the immune system, decrease your caffeine intake, avoid alcohol, and stop smoking.

As a fever subsides, the appetite usually returns. When it does, start by eating diluted vegetable juices or vegetable soups. In general, cooked foods are easier to digest than raw ones. Simple foods such as whole grains, steamed vegetables, soup and diluted juices are recommended for a few days after a fever or until strength has returned.

Wendy Hodsdon, ND
Contributing Expert

Have a question for our Experts? Send it in!