HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What do you eat when you're sick?

I have a friend who is recovering from pneumonia, is weak and has no appetite. She's "souped out", has tried grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, toast, and all the typical when your sick items. Does anyone have any other ideas of dishes that would be easy on the system but nutritious and comforting. She's elderly, so probably can't tolerate a lot of spice or heat. Thanks for any ideas!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. How about rice pudding?

    1. Macaroni and cheese. Cheese grits. Polenta with cheese. And applesauce (haven't figured out how to get cheese into applesauce, but I'm open to suggestion).

      I am also always comforted by a nice Cantonese seafood casserole.

      2 Replies
      1. re: small h

        I like cheesy (instant) grits with an egg stirred in. You can use a hunk of cheddar as your "spoon" while eating applesauce.

        When I'm sick I tend to really listen to my cravings and aversions. Most recent it was yes to cheesy grits w/ham and egg followed by waffles, but no to citrus polenta cake and plain pasta.

        1. re: viperlush

          <You can use a hunk of cheddar as your "spoon" while eating applesauce.>

          My life is now complete. I will think of you next time I'm sick (in a thankful way, of course).

      2. I like cinnamon raisin toast with butter and peanut butter when I'm getting over being sick.
        Add a glass of V-8 and it's a feast.

        How about risotto? Tasty and gentle.

        Hope she's feeling better soon.

        1. howsabout mashed potatoes and gravy? chicken stew? chicken dumplings? hot chicken sandwich on white bread smothered in gravy and topped with canned peas. hot roast beef sandwich (see above). cheap chinese takeout (chowmein, chopsuey).

          1. B-R-A-T: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. And a bunch of hot low salt broths. Put a couple good chocolates out, so you'll know when her appetite's really back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kaleokahu

              BRAT is the recovery diet for severe diarrhea/dehydration, so I'm not sure it's what a person recovering from pneumonia would want or need. Personally, I like mushy comfort foods when I'm sick--creamed spinach, chocolate pudding, macaroni and cheese, and shrimp with lobster sauce. Egg drop soup, too.

            2. Well, typically people like softer and liquid foods when they are sick, but it appears your friend has had enough of these. For some people, salt or sugar can increase appetite, so you can add more salt and sugar to the typical foods. I hate to say this because I am not into MSG at all, but MSG is known to increase appetite. On the other hand, we can try less boring foods. Like foods she has rarely tried before, like some Cantonese seafood casserole as small h has mentioned or some Vietnamese beef pho or Cantonese wonton soup or...




              In short, I think we need to find out if she is bored of the same repeated foods or if she finds the foods tasteless. Depending on the circumstance, one can address the situation better.

              1. Congee/jook? It's certainly my favorite when I'm sick. Plus you can vary the ingredients a lot. Meat, fish, nuts...

                1. Depending on how I feel, I get cravings for chinese food. In particular, fried rice with the hot mustard mixed in -clears out the sinus issue immediately!

                  1. Chocolate babka, single malt scotch and pork chops. She needs her strength.

                    1. Pasta Roni (or grocery store equivalent) with some extra cheese added in is my sick time comfort food. Pretty much noodles with a little bit of fatty/salty sauce, so it's not super-nutritious but at least it's some mild calories going in.

                      1. How about an egg salad/sandwich?

                        1. As small H....I also go for Grits made with chicken stock.

                          I obmit the cheese and butter becuase when I am sick my tummy can't deal with lots of soild fats...don't get me wrong I love cheese grits!

                          1. My experience has been that more plain items are easier for folks to stomach. What about a baked potato with salt and butter. If that goes ok, then you can expand options w extra toppings from cheese, to sour cream, bacon, veggies, meat and gravy (maybe chicken first if she's already been able to tolerate chicken soup).

                            Perogies are also along the same lines. Plain enough not to be a turn off but still tasty and toppings can be added as appetites allow.

                            What about roast sweet potato "fries" ?

                            Yogurt? Smoothies?

                            1 Reply
                            1. When I was a child, my mother would always make me pastina with butter, cheese, and black pepper, which I still make for myself these days when feeling under the weather.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: Novelli

                                  Wow. I have been transported back to the days of pastina and butter. Great choice for comfort food.

                                2. I would suggest because it is easy on the system some poached chicken breasts in broth with a bit of white wine for flavor with plain rice or mashed potatoes. But most important I have found is to increase appetite with small meals (4-6) times a day rather than 3 large ones. Perhaps some pudding,shake or sweet cake/favorite dessert midmorning and afternoon. I can't tolerate soups when I am sick but crave hot cereals like cream of wheat/rice and oatmeals laced with cream,raisins,sugars etc. If she likes eggs and can tolerate more fat, I like the egg salad sandwich suggestion.

                                  1. My husband's Oma's recipe: Mashed carrots and potatoes with smoked sausage

                                    Sauté small diced (1/2cup)onions and (2cloves) minced garlic in the pot with a little butter until translucent but don't burn them, put the diced(large) of (1cup)carrots & (2cups)potatoes and just enough chicken stock to cover 2/3 of the vegetable, place 2 smoked sausages on top, bring it to a boil then turn the heat down to med-low, cover and cook until tender, or cook in the pressure cooker for 1/2 hr. Mash carrots and potatoes, slice or dice sausages and mix everything together, salt and pepper to taste.

                                    1. Boiled white rice topped with butter and parmesan cheese, tomato soup with rice, custard, bananas, chicken and rice. Buttered cinnamon raisin toast sounds good, rice pudding, bread pudding.

                                      When I was sick as a child I used to want buttered rice and spaghetti. That always made me feel better.

                                      1. My mother always made me pastina or acini pepe with milk and a couple of pats of butter. So warm and yummy and comforting. Still does the trick.


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          same here with the pastina.

                                          There was also another one my mom made. Spaghetti w/ butter, egg, and pepe
                                          Basically just boil off your spaghetti, drain most of the water, but keep enough to stay soupy and the pasta swimming. toss in some butter to melt into the water, then stir in a couple beaten eggs into the water to cook. Finish with black pepper.

                                          Very cheap, but very satisfying.

                                        2. Congee/jok/chao/any variation of those?

                                          1. I know she is souped out but pho is my go to. Just don't add sirachi. Can I also suggest pasta with butter and a hint of fresh basil and finely minced garlic? Mac and cheese. I know I'll get blasted for this but when I am sick Velveeta shells and cheese works for me with cubed steak. There is also the simple hamburger patty. The thing is, what does she feel like eating? My mom used to take into account what we felt like eating.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: rHairing

                                              Baked chicken breast on dry French baguette. You'll see ...

                                            2. I have pneumonia right now, i'd stay away from dairy-when there is mucous involved. Mashed potatoes, risotto with broth, no cheese, panade, good oatmeal mixtures (savory asian ones)

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: lollya

                                                <i'd stay away from dairy-when there is mucous involved>

                                                Yeah, I do this. When mucus is involved and I have diminished sense of taste I go for texture and spice. I'll eat jars of pickles, kimchi, and pretzels.

                                              2. Caramelized onions over brown rice.
                                                Simple, tasty, satisfying, and no dairy or wheat to make the phlegm situation worse.

                                                1. Several of my friends have been feeling under the weather lately and asked me if I could post something on my blog for them.


                                                  A few other dishes that always seen to hit the spot when you're not feeling well:

                                                  Chicken and Dumplings: http://bigblackdogs.net/chicken-and-d...

                                                  Shrimp and Grits: http://bigblackdogs.net/shrimp-and-gr...


                                                  1. Thanks for all of the feedback! We went with chicken pot pie.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. 7up-Sprite-Ginger Ale-warm water-Herbal Tea-broth-Jewish Penicillin.
                                                      My husband wants "milk toast", old family cure-all.

                                                      1. One of my favorite comfort foods is egg noodles with cottage cheese, butter and a little pepper.
                                                        That's the basic, mild version. I usually add garlic and smoked paprika to mine, sometimes mushrooms in garlic butter.

                                                        Not sure if she's past the worst of the congestion, but once she's back on wheat and dairy this is delicious and quite filling. And really easy to make.

                                                        1. egg Jok. Mom's recipe:

                                                          2-3 eggs
                                                          leftover rice
                                                          Nuk mam, a drop or 2 (not really "chinese", but Nuk Mam matches REALLY well with eggs)
                                                          Sweet soy sauce (make your own, or use a "seafood soy sauce", which is basically sweet soy sauce)
                                                          sesame oil
                                                          freshly grounded white pepper(give it a better zing to the Jok)
                                                          Fresh chillies/marinated hot pepper/siracha/tabasco(to taste)

                                                          Heat a pan with the rice in it.
                                                          Put the chicken stock, little by little, until it gets the texture you want, i like it as a thick porridge, especially for this recipe.
                                                          beat the egg in a pan with the Nuk mam and the soy sauce.
                                                          add to the heated jok, beat it up until it aquires the desired texture.
                                                          add the rest and serve.
                                                          great on a winter night or when I'm sick.=)

                                                          1. Add avacado to her diet. It is so healthy, and can be prepared in many ways. Try topping a baked potato or noodles with chopped avacado and a bit of fat free or low fat sour cream. Or mash it with mayo and use as a spread on a turkey sandwich.

                                                            1. You are allowed dry biscuits