Dealing with sickness on the low FODMAP diet
It’s that time of year, when colder temperatures and holiday craziness tend to lead to getting sick. How do you deal with sickness while also caring for your digestive system? It’s taken me awhile to figure this out, so I figured I’d share my tips + some things you may not know to keep you feeling at your best!
Before I seriously started caring for my digestive system, my method for battling a cold was to ingest lots of vitamin c pills, drink those emergen-c fizzy drinks, eat lots of oranges, and consume lots of cough drops. And while that did help me get over my cold, my cold-fighting methods were also making my stomach feel miserable. Like, fun fact: too much Vitamin C can worsen digestive discomfort. Below are some FODMAP-friendly alternatives that will help you feel better in no time!
Get plenty of rest
You’re probably rolling your eyes at me for this one. As you should be, because I’ve got a bad habit of attempting to continue my normal activity & workout load, and then getting frustrated at myself for not being able to do it all. But! I’ve found that when I let myself get enough rest & sleep I feel better so much faster.
If you can, take a day off from work or work from home (your co-workers don’t want you getting them sick anyway), take a nap or two, postpone / reschedule social engagements, go to bed early, and let yourself sleep in!
Probably another eye-roll here, but I have to mention it. Water is low FODMAP (duh), and a super easy way to help your body fight whatever it’s dealing with. (Also, in general, a great way to keep your digestive system happy!) This is especially important with all the traveling that happens this time of year – flying in particular is so dehydrating. I’ll usually pick up a bottle of smart water in the airport – I used to think that those “electrolyte waters” were just a money scam, but seriously. They make a noticeably keep me hydrated better, meaning I don’t need to consume 20 water bottles to stay hydrated. (Obviously you’ll need to buy water past security if you’re flying, but for other times when you need electrolyte water, Whole Foods sells it for <$1 per bottle, which is a less soul-sucking price.)
Another awesome way to keep hydrated is by drinking herbal teas, which are especially soothing for sore throats. I especially like Yogi teas – their ginger tea is great and they also have specific teas geared towards cold symptoms!
Eat low FODMAP fruits and veggies
Like I mentioned above, Vitamin C is known to worsen digestive distress. As in, me pounding like 10 vitamin C pills a day = not good. Now I get my vitamin C in lower levels from fruits & veggies. Citrus fruits like oranges and clementines are in season now and a great source of vitamin C. Other great options are kale, spinach, or other dark leafy greens, and berries like strawberries or blueberries. Take it easy though – 5 oranges in a day will end up being as painful as all those pills! I try to eat a serving of fruit at breakfast, another as a snack in between lunch & dinner, and some greens at dinner.
Get some fresh air + light exercise
(So basically, go for a walk.) A little bit of exercise – not enough to wear you out but enough to get your blood pumping a little – can do wonders. Bonus: if you’re like me and sometimes can’t tell if you’re experiencing allergies or a cold, spending some time outside will make it very obvious which it is.
Avoid syrups, chewable pills, and most cough drops.
Those things, unlike swallowable pills, are trying to taste good, meaning they’ve got loads of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or other suspicious ingredients. If you’re looking for cough drops, I love Ricola – lemon mint is my fave, and the natural ones are good too. (Again, still in small doses — like 2-3 a day max!) Avoid anything “sugar free” as well – they’ve got to replace that sugar with something, and it probably isn’t any better for you than sugar.
I might just be late to the party here, but I only discovered nasal spray after I stopped buying cough syrups. I’ve got terrible sinuses, so nasal spray has become a life-saver! Plus, no flavorings, sweeteners, or any digestible things to worry about! I use Flonase, which you don’t need a prescription for or anything.
What are your secrets to battling sickness? Anything I missed?